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A Director’s Approach to Jeffrey Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Josiah Stanley Wallace, M.F.A.
Thesis Chairperson: David J. Jortner, Ph.D.
American playwright Jeffrey Hatcher continues his practice of adapting well
known works of literature for the stage with his 2008 play, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
This thesis considers the play within Hatcher’s cannon and for its particular contribution
to the divergent mythologies that exist around Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde
tale. A brief examination of the life and work of Hatcher and the production history for
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is included in the document along with an analysis of the script.
Building upon this information and analysis is an in-depth description of the artistic and
practical process of staging the play as a part of the Baylor University Theatre’s 2011
mainstage season.
A Director’s Approach to Jeffrey Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Josiah Stanley Wallace, B.A.
A Thesis
Approved by the Department of Theatre Arts
Stan C. Denman, Ph.D., Chairperson
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of
Baylor University in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree
Master of Fine Arts
Approved by the Thesis Committee
David J. Jortner, Ph.D., Chairperson
DeAnna M. Toten Beard, M.F.A., Ph.D.
Marion D. Castleberry, Ph.D.
Stan C. Denman, Ph.D.
Joshua S. King, Ph.D.
Accepted by the Graduate School
May 2012
J. Larry Lyon, Ph.D., Dean
Page bearing signatures is kept on file in the Graduate School.
Copyright © Josiah Stanley Wallace
All rights reserved
List of Figures
Chapter One: The Playwright and the Play
Hatcher’s Biography
Early Playwriting Career
Hatcher’s Body of Work
Origins of Hatcher’s Work
Characteristics of Hatcher’s Work
Hatcher’s Significance
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Novella and Hatcher’s Adaptation
Productions and Reviews
Theoretical Discourses
Chapter Two: Analyzing the Play
Theoretical Analysis
Actor Characterization
Narrative Style
Visual Elements
Clouded Identity
Good and Evil
Unconditional Love
Chapter Three: The Design Process
The Concept
The Process of Collaboration
Scenic Design
Lighting Design
iii Costume Design
Hair and Makeup Design
Sound Design
Properties Design
Chapter Four: The Rehearsal Process
Casting Process
Pre-Rehearsal Instructions
Overall Rehearsal Narrative
Technical Rehearsals
Work with the Actors
Dialect Work
Chapter Five: Production Assessment
Design Elements
Importance of the Dramaturg
The Play’s Intertextuality
A—Initial Design Images
B—Scenic Design Images
C—Lighting Images
D—Costume and Hair Images
E—Properties Images
F—Various Production Images
G—List of Hatcher’s Plays
Works Consulted
Initial Design Imagery
Fig. A 1. Mercedes Image Two
Fig. A 2. Mercedes Image Two
Fig. A 3. Wrought Iron One
Fig. A 4. Wrought Iron Two
Fig. A 5. Wrought Iron Three
Fig. A 6. Wrought Iron Four
Scenic Design Images
Fig. B 1. Diagram of Mabee Theatre
Fig. B 2. Ground Plan
Fig. B 3. Drawing of Scenic Unit
Fig. B 4. Detail of Quatrefoil
Fig. B 5. Scenic Unit
Fig. B 6. Technical Drawing of Door
Fig. B 7. Door in Frame
Fig. B 8. Door Out of Frame
Fig. B 9. Gurney
Fig. B 10.Bench
Fig. B 11.Chair
Fig. B 12.Laboratory
Lighting Images
Fig. C 1.
Fig. C 2.
Fig. C 3.
Fig. C 4.
Light Through Slats
Door Light
Narrow Down Light
Costume Images
Fig. D 1.
Fig. D 2.
Fig. D 3.
Fig. D 4.
Fig. D 5.
Fig. D 6.
Fig. D 7.
Jekyll’s Costume
Elizabeth’s Costume
Cast Costumes
Actor’s Facial Hair
Poole’s Hair
Female Ensemble’s Hair
Elizabeth’s Hair
Properties Images
Fig. E 1. Ordered Cane
Fig. E 2. Actual Cane
Fig. E 3. Cadaver
v Various Production Images
Fig. E 1. Hyde’s Room
Fig. E 2. Letter Scene
Fig. E 3. End of Park Scene
Fig. E 4. Hyde Threatens Elizabeth
Fig. E 5. Hyde Hurts Prostitute
Fig. E 6. Hyde Offers Elizabeth a Place
Fig. E 7. Actor Climbing on Scenic Unit
Fig. E 8. Hyde Threatens Utterson
vi 129
To my wife, Bethany, I cannot thank you enough. This endeavor would not have
been possible without you. To my sons, Caleb and Samuel, I apologize for all the missed
wrestling matches. Please do not hate education and/or theatre because it keeps me away
from you. I have been truly blessed in my life by God and family, and I give them all the
credit. I love you very much.
A variety of other thanks are in order. Thank you, cohort of one, David Reed.
Your friendship and contribution to my growth over the last three years of study has been
greatly appreciated. Thank you Baylor Theatre faculty for bringing me to Baylor and
challenging me as an artist and a scholar! Particular thanks go out to the designers, cast,
and crew of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You created a dynamite piece of theatre!
The Playwright and Play
In fifth grade, Jeffrey Hatcher wrote his first play, adapting Hamlet to be
performed by his classmates. His teacher insisted that the production couldn’t be longer
than forty-five minutes, so he used a Classic Comics’ Hamlet text as the departure point
for the adaptation (Rawson). More than fifty years later, Jeffery Hatcher has become one
of the most prolific playwrights of the American theatre, having created more then fifty
works for stage, television, and film. Like his first theatrical foray with Hamlet,
adaptations and British period pieces continue to typify much of his work. His 2008
adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde continues this tradition.
This document chronicles the research, findings, and artistic choices made while
preparing for and directing Jeffrey Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Baylor
University (presented February 2012). Chapter One focuses on the playwright’s
biography, body of work (including reoccurring themes and stylistic tendencies), the
production history and critical reception of Jekyll, and the theoretical constructs through
which the play’s thematic content can be considered. After laying these foundations of
inquiry, an in-depth analysis of the play’s text will be conducted in Chapter Two. This
analysis explores the structure, style, and characters’ actions as they give insight for
understanding the play’s thematic core. Chapter Three and Four detail the artistic choices
and collaborative journey of the director, designers, and actors throughout the
1 production process. Chapter Five addresses the overall artistic journey the staging of Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde represented for the play’s director.
Hatcher’s Biography
Hatcher was born just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in Steubenville, Ohio. He
describes the community as “a real gangster kind of town . . . . A real honky-tonk, steeland-coal river town, with the largest number of prostitutes per capita in the United States.
. . . It’s the kind of town where my father would talk about going downtown on election
night and bumping into guys carrying ballot boxes to dump into the river” (Zinman).
While the world that surrounded Hatcher was bleak, his home life was a positive one. An
only child, Hatcher’s parents were very supportive and loving. His mother was a stay-athome mom, and his father ran a construction company. It was his mother who helped
him with his adaptation of Hamlet, and of his father Hatcher states: “He was a tough bird,
but very soft at home, very supportive” (qtd in Rawson). While Hatcher sees himself as a
very different man than his now-deceased father, he claims that they do share
“workaholic” tendencies, and Hatcher’s creative output certainly supports this claim
Hatcher always knew he wanted to work in the theatre. In his article about
Hatcher in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Christopher Rawson writes: “There was ‘no
incandescent, catalytic moment’ that turned Hatcher to theater – it was where he was
headed all along” (Rawson). By high school, Hatcher was acting in a variety of plays
while also writing for the student newspaper; Hatcher talks about this time as the
beginning of his “negotiation between acting and writing” (qtd in Rawson). After high
school, Hatcher attended a small independent liberal arts institution, Denison College –
2 now Denison University – in Granville, Ohio. He graduated in 1980, majoring in theatre,
and promptly moved to New York to study acting at NYU.
It was while pursuing an acting career in New York that Hatcher began taking
further initiative as a playwright. The acting roles that he received in school were
typically older characters, but when he auditioned for roles in the outside world there
were actual older actors suited to play those roles (Hatcher, Downstage). Hatcher
envisioned himself one day becoming a repertory actor, but never made inroads into the
industry. Of this failure, he states: “I don’t think I really ever had the stamina or the grit
required of an actor. You know, to hit the pavement and go to the auditions. It’s a ghastly
life” (Zinman). A friend encouraged Hatcher to pursue playwriting, and by the mid
1980s he began writing short one act plays imitating the works of playwrights he admired
Early Playwriting Career
Hatcher first gained notice as an author with his play Neddy, and caught a big
break when the play garnered an invitation to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in 1987.
With this script Hatcher was selected as one of six playwrights to receive the Jerome
Playwright-in-Residence Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for the 1987-1988 award year (Vaughan). The Jerome award was for only
$5,000, but it was enough to prompt Hatcher to leave New York for what would become
his permanent home in Minneapolis. Neddy also received a production at the Yale
Repertory Theatre’s Winterfest in 1988. In Jackie Demaline’s review of that production,
she found the play lacking character depth and pathos, saying: “It all feels like it's been
3 put together by a puzzle-master rather than a playwright. The moves are right, but they
are anaesthetized” (Demaline).
Even with its flaws, Neddy gained Hatcher recognition for his playwriting abilities
and he was invited back to the O’Neill Center three more times in subsequent years. It
was during his fourth trip in 1992 that his play, Scotland Road – about a mysterious
Titanic survivor – was awarded a full production at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
as the recipient of the Lois and Richard Rosenthal's New Play Prize (Stein). Like Neddy,
Scotland Road was well constructed. In the play’s first review, Jerry Stein describes it as
a “crisp series of brief scenes” where “Hatcher has not just written a mystery. He actually
probes who we really are inside as opposed to what image we present to the world”
After Scotland Road, which received multiple stagings following the Cincinnati
production, Hatcher completed three more works in the next three years. First he penned
Bon Voyage, an adaptation of a failed Noel Coward musical, Sail Away, which received
unflattering reviews with its only staging at the Denver Theatre Center (Swartz). The
next play was Smash, an adaptation of the novel An Unsocial Socialist by George
Bernard Shaw, which was produced at Intiman Theater in Seattle, Washington. It
received a variety of favorable reviews and was picked up for publication by Dramatists
Play Services. The third play was Three Viewings, a set of three monologues about
robbing corpses during the open casket viewings at their memorials. It was produced at
Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and also received subsequent publication.
By 1992, Hatcher had moved into the role as the head of the Playwrights’
Center’s writing program. His work as a playwright and his extensive experience
4 learning from and mentoring other playwrights led to his 1996 book, The Art and Craft of
Playwriting. The book is a very straightforward piece emphasizing Aristotelian ideals
and play structure as a guide for the playwright. In addition to its sound advice on
writing, it includes a variety of interviews of well-known playwrights with whom
Hatcher developed relationships while at the Playwrights’ and O’Neill Centers. The
book gives various insights into Hatcher’s playwriting process, style, and the typical
thematic content of his plays, and will be useful for defining his tendencies when these
topics are addressed later in this text. However, before delving into an in-depth
examination of his work, a brief overview of those works will be given.
Hatcher’s Body of Work
Hatcher has written more than forty plays that have received professional
productions and/or staged readings; he is particularly well known for his adaptation work
and his plays based on historical personages and/or events. Neddy and Scotland Road
were significant early in his career, but it was with Compleat Female Stage Beauty in
1999 that he began to generate wide popular interest as a playwright (he adapted the
piece for film in 2004). The play is about the last great male actor of female roles in
Restoration England before and after the acceptance of women to the stage by King
Charles II. Heralded for its historical intrigue, the play also finds resonance as it
considers performativity and gender identity. With his adaptation of the book Tuesdays
with Morrie (completed in 2001) Hatcher found his most popular success to date.
Tuesdays with Morrie made the Theatre Communications Group’s list of the Top Ten
Plays in American Theatre two separate years (Theatre). The play was written in
partnership with the source text’s author, Mitch Albom, and dwells heavily on the
5 importance of mentorship and that which makes for a fulfilling life. Hatcher’s growing
success as playwright also garnered him work as the book writer of his first and only
Broadway musical, Never Gonna Dance. The production was based on the 1936 Fred
Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, Swing Time. With a run of 84 performances the piece
did not achieve commercial success, but is was received favorably by the audiences who
attended. In addition to his theatrical work at that time, Hatcher also wrote the
screenplays for the 2005 film, Casanova, and more recently, The Duchess (2008).
Origins of Hatcher’s Plays
The subject matter of Hatcher’s work typically falls into one or more of three
categories: adaptations, historical plays, and personal stories. Of Hatcher’s more than
forty plays, over fifteen have been structured around some historical event or personage.
Seven plays appear to have been created entirely by Hatcher without the use of other
works or history to guide him. The majority of Hatcher’s plays are adaptations.
In an interview asking about his adaptation work, Hatcher says the following:
I actually got into adaptation not by accident, but firmly by design. I had a
number of friends who were adapting things and I thought it was a great
gig. And I thought, ‘I really got to get into this.’ So I started contacting
artistic directors around the country saying ‘What is something that you
have always wanted adapted?’ . . . I kind of saw them as hired gun gigs at
first. But truth be told, sometimes when you are writing a lot of your own
material, you know, you can go to the well a little once too often. And an
adaptation gig is great because you get to reenergize yourself. (Hatcher,
Hatcher’s first work of adaptation, Smash, was produced by Seattle’s Intiman Theatre in
1996, and was well reviewed – it has become one of Hatcher’s many oft-produced plays.
Creating successful plays out of the writings of others may have begun with Smash, but
Hatcher has continued with a high level of success ever since. His latest works, as of fall
6 2011, are a Sherlock Holmes play using a story line from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The
Suicide Club, and a screenplay scheduled for production in 2012 titled, Hellfire Club,
about notorious historical gentlemen in London during the eighteenth century.
As a playwright, Hatcher often attempts to approach history from unique angles.
He made the following comment about using history as the inspiration for much of his
work in a 2004 interview: “If I had a pathetic business card it would say ‘Jeffrey Hatcher,
footnotes of history.’ What I like to find, either by design or accident are characters or
events that are in the shadows of some major historical event. . . . I just like going at
things from the side” (Hatcher Downstage). Scotland Road began his use of this method,
but plays like Complete Female Stage Beauty (1999), Work Song: Three Views of Frank
Lloyd Wright (2000), A Picasso (2005), Ella (2008), All the Way with LBJ, and his
screenplays, Casanova and The Duchess, all attest to this preoccupation.
Characteristics of Hatcher’s Work
Hatcher insists on creating structural outlines before beginning serious script
writing. In these outlines he delineates the beginning, middle, and end of his play and
focuses on the cause and effect nature of the characters’ journey. In The Art and Craft of
Playwriting, Hatcher comments on the machine-like nature of his play scripts, telling
aspiring writers: “Don’t be proud of the fact that your play isn’t a driving machine. Work
hard to make it one” (Hatcher, Art 85). The “machine-like” structure to which Hatcher is
referring is directly connected to the idea of character action. While he acknowledges
and admires that some playwrights are able to write without knowing where they are
going before beginning their scripts, he writes: “I need an outline of the play’s actions.
And the plays I’ve written after I’ve outlined the action have always been better plays,
7 more successful plays, and more readily produced plays than the ones I’ve written blindly
with only a few impressions and some crossed fingers to guide me” (86). The “action” to
which Hatcher is referring is outlined earlier in his book:
A dramatic action is an act performed by a character which in turn causes
another character to perform yet another action. Good drama builds a
chain of such actions from the beginning of the play right up to the end. If
the shouting match doesn’t change anyone, it’s not an action. But if the
fistfight prompts one of the characters to plot his revenge, or if the
shouting match causes one of the characters to leave her home, they’re
vital dramatic actions. (35)
Hatcher sees the creation of suspense at the heart of the playwright’s job, and
dramatic character action is that which functions to create that suspense. He writes: “The
best authors of the most successful dramas of the last two thousand years have
understood that the cornerstone of dramatic engagement is suspense” (14). For Hatcher,
this idea of creating suspense is better defined as creating “mystery” and “mystery plays.”
On the topic, he writes:
By “mystery play,” I don’t necessarily mean crime/murder mysteries such
as Agatha Christie’s whodunit. . . . What I mean is that all good drama is
carried by mystery, by the questions posed in a play. Think of these
questions as the little hooks to pull the audience along. The audience
leans forward to find out the answers to these questions. . . . In this sense,
all great dramas are great mystery plays. (12)
Suspense is initiated through the creation of characters with whom the audience
can identify. The audience is prompted to ask questions regarding the potential future
actions the characters will take as complications to their desires are encountered. Hatcher
is of the firm belief that an adaptor must give the audience as much as they would expect
from their knowledge of the story while also giving them “a few twists and turns they’d
never seen before” (qtd in Kerr). These “twists and turns” are directly connected with
Hatcher’s belief that a playwright must create suspense. “Suspense” can only be created
8 when an audience’s expectations are exceeded – complete knowledge of what will occur
by its nature removes suspense. Basically Hatcher is keen on employing dramatic irony
by withholding key information that could enlighten the characters, and holding it just out
of reach if those characters to create further action. In this way, the audience’s curiosity
and desire for answers to the play’s questions is maintained throughout the play. Some
answers are found scene to scene, others may take the whole play to discover, and others
may not be answered in the play at all. The key is to keep the audience hopeful of
discovery so that they will stay engaged and interested throughout the performance of the
Even though Hatcher indicates that he is attempting to create suspense through
“mystery” in all of his plays, he has created a great number of plays that can overtly be
categorized in the mystery genre. Scotland Road, Miss Nelson is Missing, Turn of the
Screw, What Corbin Knew, Murder by Poe, A Picasso, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Spy,
and his latest play, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, are all
Hatcher plays which fit the traditional “mystery” genre. Hatcher’s interest in mystery has
not been limited to his playwriting work; he penned a few episodes of Peter Falk’s
Columbo detective television program early in his career. Hatcher has found a great deal
of success with plays that fit into the mystery genre. His 1999 adaptation of Turn of the
Screw continues to garner more productions that any of his plays besides Tuesdays with
Morrie. With Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hatcher actually received an Edgar Award
nomination – the most prestigious mystery genre award that writers can receive. He did
not win, but admits he has “always wanted to win one” since he saw the award on
Laurence Olivier’s character’s mantle in the film version of Sleuth (Kerr). It would not
9 be surprising to find him hoping for another nomination with his newest play, Sherlock
Holmes and the Suicide Club.
Theatricality characterizes Hatcher’s plays; he overtly acknowledges the live
audience and the illusory nature of the stage with his texts. Hatcher believes that, “Plays
are about the intimate collaboration that takes place between the stage and the audience in
time and space, in sound and light and the senses” (Hatcher, Art 4). As such, he desires
to heighten this collaboration. He often does this through the employment of direct
audience address by the characters in the play, an emphasis on theatrical settings, and
actors changing the characters they are representing while in front of the audience.
Audience members play a crucial role as the observers of the journey the
characters traverse in Hatcher’s plays. He states that a protagonist in a play “… needs
someone to hear his story. The audience fills this need” (Hatcher 102). The desire for
the audience to fulfill this function typically translates into one of two forms. Either the
fourth wall is broken and the characters address the audience with narration and
monologues that acknowledge their presence, or viewers are addressed as if they were in
the fictional world of the play. Realistic dialogue and typical fourth-wall character
interactions are still present, but Hatcher often intersperses these moments with narration
and character monologues. In all, more than half of Hatcher’s plays call for direct
address to the audience.
The settings that Hatcher requires/suggests for his plays also confirm his
preference for theatricality. He firmly believes that “the audience loves the nonrealistic
theatricality of let’s pretend” (Hatcher 62). As such, he prefers to require only the
“scenic elements that are absolutely necessary” for telling the story (62). With a variety
10 of plays that are adaptations of books with multiple settings, this means that set pieces
must transform so that they can represent these various locales. For instance, in his play,
Work Song, about Frank Lloyd Wright, a high level of importance is given to the
projection of Wright’s architectural plans, but for the offices, trains, and houses in which
the actors perform, Hatcher suggests the use of things like saw horses, planks, and
movable walls. This is not to say that none of Hatcher’s plays are to be performed in
fully realized realistic sets, but he recognizes the limitations of the theatre for achieving
complete “realism” and seeks to feature what can be done theatrically with his stories.
Hatcher’s penchant for theatricality is especially evident with the work he gives
actors. Actors are often required to play multiple roles within the same play – many
times changing characters in full view of the audience. When asked about this tendency,
Hatcher claims it stems from his movement from being an actor to becoming a writer
himself. As an actor he liked variety, and so he likes to create variety for actors in his
works (Hatcher, Downstage). Hatcher also desires for every actor to have something
special they get to do in a play. He is “very aware that every actor on stage wants his
moment” (Hatcher, Downstage). The opportunity that actors get to show an audience
their versatility though the presentation of multiple characters within the same play
creates some of these “moments.” Hatcher is heralded for the verbal wit of his writing. Even his first failed musical,
Bon Voyage, was lauded for its “wit” (Swartz). His 1988 play, Fellow Travelers, was
described as having “lyrical wit” (Steele). With his first well-reviewed adaptation,
Smash, critic Gavin Hawk complimented Hatcher on his mastery of structure and
language, stating that had George Bernard Shaw seen Hatcher’s adaptation, he would
11 have “admired his [Hatcher’s] skill in crafting this unwieldy novel into a tight three acts,
while still retaining the Shavian wit and charisma” (Hawk).
The retention of “Shavian wit and charisma” Hatcher achieved with Smash speaks
to another characteristic of his work – his mastery over language rhythms. This is
particularly seen in his adaption work, which is almost always lauded for its seamless
integration of the voice of the source text with his own, and with the characters he crafts
that represent wildly different backgrounds than his own. Speaking of his skills in these
areas, Hatcher states: “I’ve always found it fairly easy to fall into a rhythm, either a
character rhythm or the rhythm of another writer” (Antaeus).
This integration of Hatcher’s voice with the voice of other writers and character
backgrounds other than his own is nowhere as evident as it is with British source
material. In the review of Smash quoted earlier, Hawk writes that “there are pleasures to
be gleaned from ‘Smash’ that only a rare American playwright with a copious vocabulary
of British-isms and a shrewd sense of Shaw's métier could provide” (Hawk).
Considering Hatcher’s upbringing in Ohio, these achievements are impressive, and a bit
surprising. Hatcher’s own use of the spoken word sometimes utilizes British cadence and
sounds. For instance, in an interview about his adaptation of Balzac’s, Cousin Bette, he
pronounces the words “play” and “plot” with flat nasal American qualities sometimes,
while in other instances – sometimes in the same sentence – he uses the wider British
pronunciation of the “a” and “ah” sounds found in these words (Interview).
Comedy is also a strong characteristic of Hatcher’s work. He insists that it is
“essential to almost every play” (Hatcher, Art 144). Every one of his plays has comic
elements regardless of the play’s overall style or subject matter. Hatcher creates humor
12 in his plays through a variety of methods. Comedy that emerges from outlandish
character action is a mainstay of Hatcher’s repertoire. Biting one-liners and language
manipulated for comic effect is present in much of his work, and they are particularly
evident with his “British” pieces. Hatcher also has a morbid sense of humor that seems
to pair nicely with his overt “mystery” plays. Two of Hatcher’s “original” comedies are
about murdering people in retirement communities, and another is about robbing corpses.
Hatcher has also been successful creating overt slapstick and bawdy humor in his
adaptations of works such as The Servant of Two Masters and The Inspector General.
Through the act of telling and receiving stories Hatcher believes people are more
fully able to understand the complex make up of human identity. In his own words on
the subject, Hatcher indicates that he writes stories because:
Stories are humanity’s way of understanding our lives and the world in
which we live. When we try to comprehend an event – a marriage, a
divorce, a war, a crime, the life and death of a human being or the rise and
fall of civilization – we tend to investigate and explain the events in terms
of story. (8)
With this quote Hatcher is aligning himself with the long tradition of theatre as important
for identity formation that can be tracked back to the Greeks. Who a person is, is formed
by their own story and their perception of their place within a larger story.
With Hatcher having this understanding of story, it is not surprising that he often
overtly constructs his plays around a character’s journey of identity deconstruction and/or
identity formation. Scotland Road is about a woman claiming to be a Titanic survivor
and an obsessed man who claimed to be a descendent of another Titanic survivor. The
woman’s claim is scientifically impossible, but the play does not eliminate the possibility
that she could have been transported through time, while, at the same time, the man is
13 found to be a complete fraud. Compleat Female Stage Beauty is about a man who loses
his identity and purpose as an actor of female roles, and must rediscover himself as a
man. Hatcher’s screenplay, Casanova, is about how the man is something deeper than
the legend.
Overt thematic content revolving around the concept of identity can be pulled
from almost every one of Hatcher’s plays. Hatcher admits this trend, saying “I think
most of my plays have something to do with the slippery notion of identity” (Zinman).
Hatcher also states of his interest in identity:
Maybe that, too, is connected to acting, and also the way in which any
person in the theatre remakes themselves. . . . I also think my interest in
illusion versus reality comes from the desire to want to have fun with the
audience—pull out some rugs, do some magic-box tricks, that kind of
thing. (Zinman)
This question of reality versus illusion, especially in regards to character, is seen
repeatedly in Hatcher’s works.
Each of Hatcher’s plays craft structure and character action to create suspense for
an audience. His plays are overtly theatrical and show a strong mastery of language
rhythms. He uses a variety of strong comic devices, and his plays almost always deal
with the theme of identity. Hatcher’s effective integration of structural, stylistic, and
thematic elements within his plays has led to a great deal of popular success.
Hatcher’s Significance
Hatcher’s most produced works are his adaptation of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays
with Morrie, and his adaptation of Henry James’ 1898 novella, Turn of the Screw.
According to the Dramatists Play Services database, in the fall of 2011, these two scripts
were produced over fifteen times each. After these, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came in
14 third with thirteen productions, and The Government Inspector was his fourth most
popular play, with nine. Several of his other plays were produced anywhere from one to
five times. All told, taking into account only Hatcher’s scripts published by Dramatists,
there were sixty-six productions of thirteen of Hatcher’s plays in the fall of 2012. It is
interesting to note that Hatcher’s non-adapted works make up only eight of the sixty-six
total productions found in this same period. In order to put these numbers into context, of
the other living American playwrights with plays published by Dramatists, only Steven
Deitz surpassed Hatcher in number of productions, with sixty-seven. After these two
playwrights David Lindsay-Abaire had fifty productions done of six of his plays, and the
next largest number went to John Patrick Shanley with thirty-one.
Hatcher’s output of plays is prodigious and diverse in style and content.
However, the lack of serious accolades and academic scholarship exploring his works is
striking. None of his plays has received major awards, and with the exception of a few
play reviews, there are no articles considering his work in any major academic journal.
Jeffrey Hatcher is not considered as one of the great American playwrights in any
newspaper or magazine articles. His work is primarily performed in the realm of regional
theatre; very few of his plays have been produced on Broadway or Off-Broadway.
Regarding this marked lack of acclaim, Christopher Rawson of the Pittsburgh PostGazette proposes: “Perhaps his chameleon-like strength is partly to blame: there's nothing
as distinctively ‘Hatcher’ as there is about Christopher Durang, August Wilson or Neil
LaBute” (Rawson).
Commenting on Hatcher’s differences from other contemporary American
playwrights, Toby Zinman, in a 2004 TCG interview states “You’re obviously interested
15 in the quirky footnotes of history that give rise to large ideas; this makes you unlike most
American playwrights, who are still writing psychological domestic drama” (Zinman).
With playwrights like Tracy Letts recently earned the Pulitzer Prize for just such a
“psychological domestic drama,” August: Osage County, and David Lindsay-Abaire
receiving the Pulitzer for Rabbit Hole, Zinman’s observation still appears valid in 2012.
However, the acclaim of poetic playwright Sarah Ruhl shows that artistic recognition has
also recently been associated with non-domestic drama. Interestingly, Ruhl’s In the Next
Room or the Vibrator Play uses just the sort of odd historical angle that Hatcher typically
uses when creating his work. The use of history or adaptation in itself, then, does not
relegate Hatcher to insignificance.
Hatcher’s lack of recognition may be a case of his not having written that “one
play” that pushes him into the spotlight on Broadway, wins multiple New York based
accolades, and/or receives the Pulitzer Prize. David Lindsay-Abaire, Tracy Letts, John
Patrick Shanley, and Sarah Ruhl all received accolades in this manner. Hatcher, most
likely, occupies a similar category in the American theatre world as someone like Steven
Dietz – interestingly the one playwright with more productions of his play being done
than Hatcher, and a playwright who is also without major New York accolades. Dietz
and Hatcher are what might be designated the “working men playwrights.”
Hatcher’s writing is about action and storytelling rather poetry or deep social
commentary. Hatcher is writing primarily for entertainment – telling stories in whatever
mode makes the subject dramatically interesting. Much of his work does resonate
beyond the surface level – which deepens his work considerably – but his primary mode
16 of operation is still that of audience appeasement. This point is utterly apparent when
listening to Hatcher talk about adapting Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
You have to engage with what the audience wants, if they are going to
come to Faust, or J and H, or Frankenstein that are going to want certain
things. There are certain things sort of like religious ritual that we expect. So you do have to give the audience the beakers, the top hats, you have to
have the moment where Hyde beats a man to death in the park, because
these are the things that people who haven’t even read the book think they
know. And, if you do not provide that for them they will feel that they
were short changed somehow. I accept that … and respect it, but at the
same time if you give them exactly what they expect, somewhere in the
back of their minds they are say, “well, I could have written that.” Or I
could have saved myself $67.50 and come up with a story like that based
on what I know. So, you really do have to always twist their
expectations. (Hatcher, Downstage)
This focus on what the audience wants, and the desire for them to not regret buying
tickets, is a concern with the popular nature of his work. The plays that seek to create
change or comment on deep social problems or truths have been finding acclaim of late.
These plays are obviously still “satisfying” experiences for the audiences – otherwise
they would not receive the acclaim; however, the writer’s concern with audience
reception is likely less important than it is to Hatcher. Hatcher seems to approach his
work with the desire to “satisfy” the audience at the forefront of his intent. The
intersection of this desire to satisfy, and his creation of artistic innovation is an interesting
point to consider when looking at Hatcher and the state of dramatic writing in America.
However, considering Hatcher’s significance and the entertainment versus artistic
continuum he represents takes this document beyond the scope of its primary focus.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In 2008, Hatcher adapted Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the stage on a joint commission from the Arizona Theatre
17 Company and the San Jose Repertory Theatre. Shortening the title to just Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde, Hatcher crafted a piece of theatre that is very typical of the originations, style,
and subject matter of his work. Arizona Theatre Company’s artistic director, David Ira
Goldstein, commissioned and directed the play because it had been a “long-term project”
of his to “direct a trilogy of plays on Victorian monsters” (qtd in Graham). Jekyll was the
last of this trilogy, as he had previously directed productions of Steven Dietz’s Sherlock
Holmes and Dracula. This was the first collaboration that Goldstein conducted with
Hatcher on the creation of a new script – the duo has collaborated with two more world
premieres at the Arizona Theatre Company since: Ten Chimneys in February 2011, and
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club in September 2011.
The Novella and Hatcher’s Adaptation
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in
1886. The novella was an immediate success, selling more than 40,000 copies in the first
six months after publication (Stevenson, Strange). Hatcher joined a long line of writers
who have adapted the work for the stage when he penned his version in 2008. The first
stage adaptation, by Thomas Russell Sullivan, was written for and performed by Richard
Mansfield in the title role a little over a year after the novella was published in the United
Kingdom. The play opened in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 9, 1887, and garnered
U.S. tours that year, then in 1904, and again in 1906. The script added a female
character, Miss Lanyon, a daughter of Dr. Lanyon and the fiancée of Jekyll – an addition
that surfaces in some form or another in many of the sixty-seven other stage adaptations
that have been created since 1887 (Robert) (This number, sixty-seven, does not include
the many musicals, comedies, ballets, radio, or opera adaptation numbers of the work).
18 Hatcher’s version is the most recent stage adaptation, and is unique in that it appears to
be the only script with a real love interest for Hyde and the use of multiple actors who
play the Hyde role. The number of film and television adaptations of the novella is also substantial.
The first film was recorded by William Selig of the Polyscope Film Company in 1808,
and the latest work was a modern retelling of the story produced by the BBC in 2007,
titled, Jekyll. The BBC version garnered actor James Nesbitt a Golden Globe Award
nomination and a Rose d’Or nomination for his characterization of the Jekyll/Hyde role,
continuing a long line of stage and film actors who have received great accolades for
their portrayal of the character.
The many adaptations of the work speak to the mythic proportion of Stevenson’s
creation. Asked about this topic in an interview, Hatcher responded with this
I don’t know if there is another book or play that talked about duality before
“Jekyll and Hyde” did, at least not in the popular press. But it’s so cool that it
roars up in “Star Trek” or “The Simpsons” when Bart’s evil twin shows up.
It’s incredible when someone gets an idea, like Stevenson in 1881 or ’82, and
people are able to riff on it for 150 years (qtd in Royce).
Hatcher continues the tradition of “riffing” on Stevenson’s creation with his play.
The common understanding is that Dr. Jekyll represents some kind of perfectly
virtuous Victorian gentleman, while Mr. Hyde is some kind of abject evil. This
understanding has gained mythic proportion, but it is not in fact completely substantiated
in Stevenson’s original. In the novella, Hyde is seen as evil, but Jekyll is contending with
his struggle to act in accordance with moral society’s expectations; he still has desires
that are contrary to the accepted societal constructs. It is this struggle to maintain the
19 appearance of virtue that leads to his experiments in creating Hyde. There is a very real
struggle for moral supremacy over desire that is considered in the work. It is this
understanding of Jekyll as an imperfect man that Hatcher keys into when creating his
Instead of good versus evil, Hatcher sees the Jekyll and Hyde story as more “the
stifling of parts of one’s own personality” (qtd in Graham). Of his unique take on the
character/characters, Hatcher elaborated with the following:
. . . I felt to look at Jekyll as the perfect being and Hyde as his vastly
imperfect opposite was a mistake, and even some notes in the novella that
Jekyll has had strange desires and did odd things when he was younger.
So, I figure if Jekyll is 70/30 than Hyde’s got to be 30/70. And what
happens to the person who is mostly good starts to flip the percentages. In
other words, if Hyde has been doing terrible things, you know, what
happens on the day he is 65/35? And 60/40, and 35/65, and on and on
until finally Hyde is more sympathetic than you would think and Jekyll
more unsympathetic? So, it’s almost like a math question, and I wanted to
play around with our expectations of Hyde as a character, and Jekyll as a
character, to say, look, it’s not a question of duality, it’s a question of
multifaceted personality. (Kerr)
Looking at Jekyll/Hyde as a “multifaceted personality,” Hatcher’s choice to have
multiple actors represent Hyde during the play becomes more than just an “interesting
way of doing the show,” but ties the device to the play’s thematic content. The creation
of a love interest for Hyde also opens up the possibility of goodness being present within
him. Jekyll’s acts of murder and attempted murder thereby recast the typical
interpretation of Jekyll as “good.”
On this desire to exceed expectations in the work of adapting Jekyll, Hatcher is
recorded saying:
I mean that in the sense that they would have expectations, sure, I mean
foggy streets, hats, canes, blood, beakers – That business that we think of
with Jekyll and Hyde, but that there will be some perception [sic] that I
20 think are buried in the novella that tend not to come out in most
adaptations. Some of them theatrical, some of them dramatic, some of
them psychological. (Kerr)
Hatcher’s modifications to the story and the unique theatrical additions he makes are his
attempts to exceed the expectations of the audience while keeping the retelling grounded
in the source text.
Productions and Reviews
Both David Ira Goldstein’s Arizona Theatre and San Jose Repertory 2008 world
premiere productions of the play were well received. The headline for the Tucson Weekly
review of the production was “Unexpected Connections: ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ as
adapted by ATC rivetingly makes us all complicit in evil.” In the article, critic James
Reel outlines the compelling tone of the play and connects the thematic use of the
multiple Hydes to the complicity all people have in Hyde’s activities. Robert Hurwitt’s
review for the San Francisco Gate sums up Hatcher’s work and the show in the
following manner: “Stripping away most of the melodramatic details and love interests
the tale has picked up ever since its 1886 publication, and modifying others, he’s
fashioned a ‘Jekyll’ that seems truer to Stevenson but hipper, sexier and more intense
than most” (Hurwitt). In Karen D’Souza’s review of the San Jose production, she
commends director Goldstein’s creation of “a sly sense of mystery” (D’Souza).
Even with the positive accolades, reviewers noted some deficiencies with the
production – particularly citing narrative structure of the script. D’Souza wrote, “Some
may find the narrative a tad convoluted just when it cries out to be pulse-pounding”
(D’Souza). Robert Hurwitt also implies some script deficiencies when he writes that
Goldstein’s “sharply paced, vivid staging picks up the slack” (Hurwitt). Observations of
21 narrative deficiencies are not limited to the reviews of Goldstein’s production. In the
Philadelphia premier, Wendy Rosenfield titled her critique: “Variations on ‘Jekyll’ –
Production’s compelling approach to classic bogs down in plot points.” Rosenfield
indicated that the “still direction” by the director failed to overcome Hatcher’s “fussy plot
points,” and contributed to a lost opportunity (Rosenfield). In the Seattle premier, Misha
Berson noted “some weaknesses on the way to achieving white-knuckled suspense and
dramatic momentum.” She specifically commented on the piece’s “laggy start,” but that
it “gains force and creepiness in a suspenseful second act.” In the Minnesota premier, the
script was accused of being “uneven” and “trying to do too many things” (Royce).
None of these critics go into detail expressing specific examples of these narrative
deficiencies, but the explanation likely resides in the overall style of the narrative. Many
characters are introduced in a brief time and they function primarily to push forward plot
points. A lack of urgency created by these characters and the inability the audience has
to invest in those characters likely contributed to the reviewers’ observations of
deficiencies. However, it is worth noting that Hatcher actually streamlined the narrative
structure of Stevenson’s original. Stevenson’s novella is full of digressions and
reiterations. Hatcher compiles these elements and places them in a linear narrative.
Hatcher’s use of different actors playing the roles of Jekyll and Hyde is
commonly heralded in reviews. After a Lexington, Kentucky, production of the play,
reviewer Candace Chaney noted, “The fact that Jekyll can physically confront and
interact with Hyde is the most novel and rewarding aspect of the show” (Chaney). The
use of different actors in this way also removes the potential for overwrought melodrama
as the actor transforms from Jekyll into Hyde in view of the audience.
22 The use of multiple actors to play Hyde emerges as a point of major consideration
by the critics, but in this case the conceit is not consistently appreciated. Of the premier
production, Karen D’Souza’s wrote: “Although it's fascinating to watch the ensemble
scramble from one guise to another (most of the actors here play multiple parts), the
multiple personalities seem more of an exercise in technique than an insight into the
pathology of evil” (D’Souza). Graydon Royce in his Minneapolis review continued this
line of critique, titling his review: “Too much of a bad thing? - Four Hydes are too many,
but Jeffrey Hatcher's update of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is still highly entertaining and
thought-provoking” (Royce).
The device of using multiple Hydes was not completely panned. Robert Hurwitt
and Misha Berson both commended it. Wendy Rosenfield, while critical of the play’s
direction, did see the use of the “chorus of Hydes” as an effective method. In a
production of the play staged in Olympia, Washington, a particular strong commendation
of the device was made in a review by Alec Clayton. He writes: “Including four Hydes
played by four different actors – often on stage all at once to present different aspects of
the same warped personality – was a stroke of genius on the part of Hatcher” (Clayton).
The overt use of physical characterization and movement for storytelling was also
a point of commendation in many of the more positively-reviewed productions of the
play. In Goldstein’s staging, a commendation was made of his “balletic depictions of
violence” (D’Sousa). In an Omaha, Nebraska, review Bob Fischbach writes: “It takes
skillful movement and careful timing to make this thing work” (Fischbach). The
Olympia, Washington production was highlighted for its utilization of “skillful
movement.” Clayton writes “Whitney [the director] choreographs the movements of
23 these Hydes . . . like a contemporary ballet” and the “movement of set pieces as if in a
modern dance” (Clayton). The movement and physical characterization of the actors
prompted Clayton to make the following conclusion about the production: “This play is
an acting and directing tour de force” (Clayton).
The careful perusal of the reviews of this play points out many of the potential
difficulties and assets that a director might encounter. Focusing the audience’s attention
on the dramatic action of the play is of serious importance. The momentum and pacing
of the narrative is also a critical consideration. The use of multiple characters all
presenting short narrative diary entries, newspaper reports, and police statements likely
contribute to the difficulties some critics had with following the play’s narrative. As
such, a strong focus on distinct characterization (to remove confusion) is important, and
an overt emphasis on physicality and stylized movement has great potential for telling the
story effectively. The many characters in the play should contribute to the mystery and
suspense of the play, but not confuse the audience. Clearing up any confusion regarding
the use of multiple Hydes is also important. The audience must understand when the
actors are playing the Hyde role, and ideally begin to understand that the multiple Hydes
speak to the Hyde that exists inside everyone.
Theoretical Discourses
Before a full analysis of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde can be conducted in Chapter
Two of this document, a discussion of the prevailing perspectives contemporary
adaptation work is necessary. When considering an adaption of this genre in the postmodern era, the theories of Linda Hutcheon are at the forefront. In her book, A Theory of
Adaptation, she pinpoints one of the more distinguishing characteristics of Hatcher’s Dr.
24 Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when she indicates that adaptations are culturally odd because of
“that curious double fact of the popularity and yet consistent scorning of adaptation”
(Hutcheon XV). Hutcheon goes on to specify a variety of opinions on adaptation and
creates a theoretical discourse around the topic. Her definition of what constitutes an
adaptation consists of:
An acknowledged transposition of a recognizable other work or works
A creative and an interpretive act of appropriation/salvaging
An extended intertextual engagement with the adapted work. (9)
For her, there is no hierarchical structure that exists between various versions of adapted
works; she states: “Multiple versions exist laterally, not vertically” (XIV). She proposes
no reason for “fidelity” to guide the assessment of the quality of an adaptation; after all,
as she reminds the reader, “according to its dictionary meaning, ‘to adapt’ is to adjust, to
alter, to make suitable” (7). Hutcheon’s ability to make these claims emerge from her
acceptance of theories found in the study of intertextuality; specifically, these claims
emerge from a theoretical understanding of what she titles the “process of reception” (8).
Hutcheon writes: “We experience adaptations (as adaptations) as palimpsests through
our memory of other works that resonate through repetition with variations” (8). She also
states, “Adaptation is repetition, but repetition without replication. And there are
manifestly many different possible intentions behind the act of adaptation: the urge to
consume and erase the memory of the adapted text or to call it into question is as likely as
the desire to pay tribute by copying” (7).
The ideas proposed by intertextual theorists significantly inform Hutcheon’s
theory of adaptation. This overlap is not surprising; Hutcheon has already indicated that
25 adaptation is intrinsically intertextual. Hutcheon’s theory of adaptation, then, can only be
understood through the theory of intertextuality.
It is difficult to define intertextuality in a succinct manner. A long line of literary
theorists and the ideas that they engender must be followed in order to understand the
current discourses in the field, and one has to decide where to stop in the progression of
ideas before any one definition of “intertextuality” can be made. Graham Allen, in his
book, Intertextuality, spends two hundred pages explaining the theory and its history. He
also does a good job summarizing what is included in those pages in the introduction to
the book:
Barthes employs intertextual theory to challenge long-held assumptions
concerning the role of the author in the production of meaning and the
very nature of literary meaning itself. For Barthes, literary meaning can
never be fully stabilized by the reader, since the literary work’s
intertextual nature always leads readers on to new textual relations.
Authors, therefore, cannot be held responsible for the multiple meanings
readers can discover within literary texts. Barthes views such a situation
as a liberation for readers; a liberation from the traditional power and
authority of the figure of the ‘author,’ who is now ‘dead.’ (Allen 2-3)
What is pertinent here is the concept that the meaning of a text varies with the reader and
that multiple interpretations of a text are possible. In the case of adaptation the
possibilities of meaning is multiplied substantially. As Hatcher’s play, Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde, is considered in this document, the theoretical concepts of intertextuality will
be useful for making conclusions regarding the themes and potential meanings of the
work. With these potential meanings understood, the practical act of staging the play can
be conducted with a full sense of theoretical support.
26 Conclusion
In this chapter, the life and work of Jeffrey Hatcher has been explored in order to
create a base of information that will aid the director in the practical process of staging
the production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Navigating the potential thematic resonance
points, audience expectations, and the unique mandates of theatrical storytelling that exist
in the work will all be important when staging this play. In the following chapter,
Hatcher’s choices along these lines will be explored through a detailed analysis of the
play script. The director’s work of guiding the designers and actors through the
production process of a play cannot occur effectively without this analysis of the play in
Analyzing the Play
The investigation into the life and work of Jeffery Hatcher emphasizing the
history of his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde stage adaptation, was explored in Chapter One. In
this chapter, an in-depth examination of the play’s intertextual and theatrical elements
will be considered in detail. Special attention is given to the cumulative effect these
elements have for communicating the play’s main themes to an audience.
Plot Synopsis
While plot synopses typically only cover the order of the actions taken by the
play’s characters, this plot synopsis includes selected descriptions of the methods by
which the plot is communicated to the audience. Of particular stylistic significance is the
use of actors playing various roles and delivering narrative directly to the audience to
frame who the characters are and where the action is taking place. There are many
locations and characters in this play, instantaneously transforming into new locations and
characters in plain sight of the audience.
Jekyll and Hyde begins with a prologue in which five actors address the audience
claiming awareness of the narrative that will unfold. A woman screams and a door bursts
open, revealing a dead body. Out of this scene, the actor who plays Utterson promptly
steps out and directly addresses the audience with, “Let me begin” (Hatcher, Dr 8).
28 Utterson and Enfield are on a London street on their way to visit Dr. Jekyll when
they come upon a red door. The door prompts Enfield to tell the story of a run-in he had
with a “Mr. Hyde.” The actor playing Utterson then performs as Hyde, as he and Enfield
reenact the encounter between Hyde and a street urchin he trampled. Enfield insists that
Hyde pay for damages. Hyde pays with a check guaranteed by Dr. Jekyll. With that
information, the reenactment ends. Hyde becomes Utterson again, and the actors playing
the other characters disperse. Utterson and Enfield resolve to ask Jekyll about Hyde.
The next scene takes place in Jekyll’s home with Jekyll, his colleague, Dr.
Lanyon, Utterson and Enfield. Lanyon departs, but not before reminding Jekyll that their
colleague, Dr. Carew, will be dissecting the body of a deceased prostitute the next day;
Jekyll does not approve. Utterson and Enfield confront Jekyll with their knowledge of
Hyde. Jekyll is evasive and tells them, “I owe Edward Hyde a debt” (14).
The action then moves to Carew’s dissection. He makes incorrect and lurid
observations about the female cadaver. Jekyll interrupts, invalidating Carew’s
conclusions and causing him to storm out. Jekyll then delivers a diary entry to the
audience in which he bemoans his inability to express his opinions at the university.
Immediately following Jekyll’s diary entry, Hyde, now played by the actor previously
playing Lanyon, appears in the dissection laboratory and replaces the cadaver with the
body of a dead pig; a description of the occurrence is presented by Utterson “reading” a
newspaper article. The action then shifts to a meeting between Carew, Jekyll, Utterson,
and Lanyon. Carew demands an apology from Jekyll which he refuses to give. Utterson
uses the conversation as an opportunity to once again confront Jekyll about Hyde. Jekyll
continues to be vague about his connection to the man.
29 In the next scene, there is a brief altercation between Utterson and Hyde in front
of the red door. After threatening to hit Utterson with his cane, Hyde leaves through the
door and the action moves inside his room. Elizabeth, the sister of the girl Hyde trampled,
has been waiting for him. Hyde threatens her, but she boldly does not run when he tells
her to go. As she leaves, Hyde learns her name.
Jekyll, now at Lanyon’s house, talks to him about “a patient” who no longer
remembers what he does when “under the influence” (25). Lanyon diagnoses the
individual as an “addict,” and Jekyll denies this as a possibility. The action jumps to
Jekyll’s study, where he reveals he will “be away a few days on business” (27). The next
few scenes flow quickly, and Hyde is played by multiple actors throughout this section of
the play – many times while on stage at the same time. Hyde finds Elizabeth in Regent’s
Park and she chooses to go home with him. Jekyll is vaguely aware of Hyde’s interaction
with Elizabeth and hires a private investigator, Sanderson, to follow Hyde and discover
Elizabeth’s identity. While being investigated, Hyde writes and posts a letter and carves
the words “wrong one” with a knife into the back of a prostitute named “Elizabeth” (31).
After hearing this information, Jekyll calls off the investigation. Utterson receives a
letter supposedly signed by Jekyll willing his estate to Hyde; it is the letter sent the night
before. Utterson reveals that he has been following Hyde as well, and has the
information Jekyll sought regarding Elizabeth’s identity. The scene ends with Jekyll
promising Utterson that he will cut himself off from Hyde.
Elizabeth works as a chamber maid at a hotel, and Jekyll is next at the hotel and
“inadvertently” encounters Elizabeth. He attempts to converse with her and tell her that
she will not see Hyde again, but she is frightened and runs from him. Jekyll returns home
30 to his laboratory and takes the tincture that turns him into Hyde. Elizabeth and Hyde then
meet in Hyde’s room. Hyde tells her he will be going away. She confesses her love for
Hyde, but he refuses to accept it and makes her leave. Hyde then resolves to take an
unmentioned action that will ruin Jekyll’s life.
In the next scene Hyde encounters Carew in the park and beats him to death with
a cane. The cane breaks, and half is left in the park to be found. An investigation
follows. The investigator, again played by the same actor who played Carew, questions
Utterson about a note left on Carew’s body addressed to Utterson. The note mentions a
“mutual friend,” and this is assumed to be Dr. Jekyll. The two are suddenly at Jekyll’s
home and Jekyll insists that he did not murder Carew. Jekyll then receives a letter from
Hyde, which is “read” by a variety of the actors playing Hyde at the same time. Jekyll
resolves to fight back and the actors are all suddenly their prior characters. Jekyll proves
to the inspector that the note on Carew’s body was intended to frame him. The inspector
leaves to investigate Hyde’s rooms, and Jekyll is alone again where he commits to never
letting Hyde out again. The inspector is then seen in Hyde’s room pronouncing Hyde
guilty of the murder of Carew.
The next scene takes place three months later; Utterson and Jekyll are on a walk
in the park when they encounter Elizabeth. Elizabeth sees Jekyll and promptly leaves.
Jekyll is suddenly stricken and insists that Utterson leave him alone. Utterson departs
and Jekyll spontaneously turns into Hyde. The action then shifts to Poole arriving at
Lanyon’s house with a note from Jekyll. They are to retrieve the contents of a drawer
from Jekyll’s laboratory. After the task has been performed, Hyde (now played by the
actor who plays Poole) arrives at Lanyon’s and uses the contents of the drawer to
31 transform back into Jekyll. Worried that Lanyon will reveal his secret, Jekyll strangles
his friend to death.
Jekyll returns home to a package left by “a lady” (53). In the package is the other
half of the cane used to murder Carew. The “lady” is Elizabeth, and she returns to the
house immediately after Jekyll opens the package. She found the cane in Hyde’s room
after the murder and kept it. She wants to know if Jekyll can tell her where Hyde may be.
As Elizabeth speaks of her love for Hyde, Jekyll insists that she cannot love the man.
During the conversation she realizes that Jekyll is in fact Hyde. At that moment, Poole
and Utterson arrive with news: “Lanyon has been murdered by Hyde” (57). Elizabeth
faints, and Jekyll tells Utterson that Hyde was there, but just escaped. Poole leaves to tell
the servants, and Utterson goes to get the police. As soon as they leave, Jekyll carries
Elizabeth to the laboratory. He locks the door and insists that Elizabeth must die because
she knows the truth. Hyde materializes and he and Jekyll argue about what should be
done. Hyde insists that Elizabeth loves them, and Jekyll responds with: “She loves you!”
(57). Elizabeth wakes and screams as the two men rush at one another. The action then
shifts to outside of the door. Utterson has returned with the inspector, and they smash
open the door. Jekyll lies dead in Elizabeth’s arms. The inspector asks if Hyde has done
the deed, and Elizabeth says, “He did it himself” (58). The inspector is confused, but
Utterson understands the truth of what Elizabeth has said – Hyde and Jekyll are the same.
The play ends with Hyde saying “I dreamt I was a man named Henry Jekyll….Thank
God I woke in time to know I wasn’t him” (58).
32 Theoretical Analysis
Before addressing the stylistic elements and character action of the play in
detail, the text of the play and the original novella will be considered on an intertextual
basis. Intertextual investigation into any work typically involves observing the ways in
which texts inform one another and the various meanings that can be created because of
the connections between those texts. As the play is an adaptation of a prior text, these
connections are abundant. However, the term “intertextuality,” as first used by Julia
Kristeva, does not merely refer to simple connections between, and the derivative nature
of, texts. Of Kristeva’s intertextuality, contemporary scholar Graham Allen explains:
[Kristeva] attempts to capture in the approach a vision of text as always in
a state of production, rather than being products to be quickly consumed
…. In such work, Kristeva implies, ideas are not presented as finished,
consumable product, but are presented in such a way as to encourage
readers themselves to step into the production of meaning. (Allen 34-37) It would be possible to devote a large portion of this chapter to the consideration of all
the ways the original novella’s characters and plot are similar and/or different from the
play, but the majority of those connections/disparities do not seriously alter the reception
of the story and or overtly change the possible “meaning” or themes in the manner
synonymous with Kristeva’s intertextuality.
For Kristeva, the purpose of intertextuality is specifically about identifying ways
the theory can be used to subvert accepted thought and challenge hegemonic structures.
Allen explains, “Intertextuality encompasses that aspect of literary and other kinds of
texts which struggles against and subverts reason, the belief in unity of meaning or of the
human subject, and which is therefore subversive to all ideas of the logical and the
unquestionable” (Allen 45). It would be ill-advised to attempt to make an argument that
33 Hatcher’s play is completely intertextual in the Kristevian sense, but her theories do give
lenses through which the subversive qualities of the work should be considered. The
“intertextual” consideration of the play conducted here acknowledges that at its core the
play delivers a very specific non-intertextual story to the audience, but there is some level
of subversion present in the play that is best understood through intertextual theory.
The clouding of the ability to pronounce absolute judgment on the make-up of the
Jekyll and Hyde character(s) is the primary area of subversion that exists within this play.
To comprehend this subversion, the construction of the characters in the novella and
subsequent permutations must be understood. Once these are established, the possible
new meanings that Hatcher has engineered begin to emerge.
In the novella, Jekyll’s experiments are an attempt to capture that which is wholly
good and eliminate that which is wholly evil inside him. He does not succeed at
capturing the wholly good – a point that is often lost with the contemporary mythos.
However, Stevenson’s Jekyll does succeed at creating a “wholly evil” being with Hyde.
Stevenson is very clear delineating the two personas:
Hence, although I had now two characters as well as two appearances, one
was wholly evil, and the other was still the old Henry Jekyll, that
incongruous compound of whose reformation and improvement I had
already learned to despair. The movement was thus wholly toward the
worse. (43)
While Stevenson’s text overtly states that Jekyll is not a wholly “good” being, subsequent
reception of the story has often missed this point. Outlining how the predominant
reception of the story has shifted, Stevenson scholar Irving Saposnik writes: “Originally
written as a fable of Victorian anxieties, it has been distorted into a myth of good-evil
antitheses, a simplistic dichotomy” (Saposnik). Saposnik explains how the story became
34 something used, “as pulpit oratory, as starring vehicle on stage and screen, as colloquial
metaphor for the good-evil antithesis that lurks in all men, it has become the victim of its
own success, allowing subsequent generations to take the translation for the original, to
see Jekyll or Hyde where one should see Jekyll-Hyde” (Saposnik).
These subsequent adaptations have created a situation where the intertextual
possibilities of the story have actually diminished. This is particularly unfortunate
because as Stevenson scholar Richard Dury suggests, Stevenson did not “wish to provide
a single key to a story that is intended to remain enigmatic” (Dury 248). Stevenson
intended for the possibility of intertextual subversion to have existed in his original.
Concluding the novella, after Jekyll delineates his understanding of the bifurcated nature
of human existence in a “written account” of his experience, Stevenson has him go on to
write: “Others will follow, others will outstrip me on the same lines; and I hazard the
guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous,
and independent denizens” (40). Stevenson recognizes that his preconceptions will not
remain as the dominant understandings of the issues of identity addressed in his novella,
and that other individuals and cultures will likely see things differently. With his play,
Hatcher has firmly placed himself with these “other individuals,” and builds upon the
intertextual possibilities that Stevenson planted.
Hatcher overtly states some of his thoughts on the nature of man in the play’s text.
He has Utterson say:
There is no one who is wholly good or bad [. . .] I think it’s more apt to
say the bodies of water are endless in their possibility: streams and rivers,
waterfalls and ice-jams, swamps and quicksand, oceans and deserts. A
thousand tributaries flooding over the one into the other. (Hatcher, Dr 47)
35 Hatcher begins with Stevenson’s construction of Jekyll as a man containing the capacity
for both good and evil actions, and overtly reinforces his evil nature by having Jekyll kill
Lanyon and attempt the murder of Elizabeth. It is with Hyde, however, that Hatcher does
his boldest work. Building upon the ambiguity intended by Stevenson, and adding his
own subversion of the accepted understanding of the Hyde character, Hatcher has written
a play which achieves intertextual significance. He completely diverges from
Stevenson’s (and popular understanding) of the character. He concludes the play with
Hyde killing Jekyll/himself in order to save the life of a woman he loves – actions that
are the opposite of “evil.” Hyde still does appalling things in the play, but this final act
complicates the audience’s ability to digest the story and pronounce the character “evil.”
In addition to the subversion of the tale found with Hyde’s character make-up, the
play’s non-text-based elements also increase its intertextual possibilities. There is a
unique connection between what live theatre does and the “production of meaning” that
cannot be overlooked when considering any play, and this one more than most.
Consideration of the potential meanings and subversions of meanings found in
Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde cannot occur without an understanding of the meaning
delivery systems that are unique to live theatre. Specifically, theatre is a
multidimensional sign system that inherently requires a process of interpretation which
goes substantially beyond the written text. Theatre is a “theatrical” medium, and must be
understood as such if a play’s intertextual qualities are to be considered. Semiotic
theorist Roland Barthes, whose ideas about the inability of texts to communicate singular
meaning significantly contributed to intertextual thought, is one of the first individuals
36 associated with the definition of “theatricality.” He designated it as: “theatre-minus-text,
it is a density of signs and sensations built up on stage starting from the written
argument” (Barthes 26). “Theatricality” opens up an overwhelming number of semiotic
elements that an audience member decodes in performance. Contemporary scholar
Christopher Balme further clarifies this concept:
The theatrical mode of perception is a complex one, consisting of
interlocking, mutually conditioning elements from different genres and
forms of representation. Expressed more concretely, theatricality is a
mode of perception and representation that either merges verbal, visual
and corporeal dimensions or forms a bridge between them. (Balme)
The “theatrical mode” designated here can directly be understood as those intertextual
elements which go beyond the written texts to make up the work.
Structure, while not typically considered for its “theatricality,” can be considered
as such when looking at this play. The play is constructed of a prologue and two acts
made up of twenty-nine scenes (twenty scenes in the first act, and nine scenes in the
second). With the exception of the prologue, and a brief backtracking in scene one, the
story is presented chronologically. This chronological construction does not “subvert”
the narrative in any significant ways. However, with every new scene taking place in a
different location than the previous, and because of the abundance of settings, characters,
and short scenes, a division of the “singular story” of Jekyll and Hyde is created. Taken
together, these qualities contribute to a play full of striking occurrences and ambiguity.
The structure is well suited to keep the play moving quickly, deliver a large number of
plot points, and create suspense with cliffhanger endings to many of the play’s scenes.
37 Actor Characterization
The manner in which the characters are presented to the audience also increases
the play’s theatricality. Hatcher designates four actors to all present Mr. Hyde and the
over twenty other roles in this script – sometimes requiring the actors to switch roles midscene in full view of the audience. A good example of this is when Jekyll is investigated
for Carew’s murder and receives a letter from Hyde. As Jekyll has been answering the
Inspector’s questions, Hyde Three has been present, invisible to all but Jekyll. Poole, the
Inspector, and Utterson are all present as the following occurs:
JEKYLL. There’s nothing! I have done nothing! I am innocent!
(Poole takes a letter from his pocket)
POOLE. Doctor, this was slipped under the pantry door this morning. It’s
got your name on it. (Jekyll takes the letter).
INSPECTOR. Sir, the laboratory — ?
JEKYLL. A moment, please. (Jekyll opens the letter. As Jekyll reads,
Utterson becomes Hyde [Hyde 1] and comes close to him and speaks.)
Hyde. “My dear Jekyll. Forgive the formality of this missive, for one as
intimate to you as I. I know what you planned to do to me. I should be
cross, but I just can’t bring myself to think ill of poor old Jekyll. (Poole. as
Hyde 4 comes close as well.)
HYDE 4. “You’re a pathetic, frightened little nothing [. . .]
JEKYLL. Oh. God . . . (The inspector as Hyde 2 speaks to Jekyll.)
[. . .]
HYDE 4. “Well, wherever the cane is, I’m sure its whereabouts will come
to me. But not to you.” (Hyde 3 moves closer to Jekyll.)
Hyde 3. “Know this, Jekyll. I am your protector now [. . .] (All the Hydes
except Hyde 3 revert to their other roles.) (Hatcher, Dr 43)
The use of actors in this manner requires the acceptance of bold theatricality by the
audience. There is no attempt to make the audience believe that the actors in the play are
38 really the people they are representing; the audience is asked to delight in the theatricality
of characterization communicated through strong differentiation of voice and body by the
actors. The audience is also forced to consider the possible implications of a Hyde
character with no singular representation.
The Multiple Hydes
Hatcher’s use of multiple actors to play Hyde is a very bold and theatrical choice,
and functions as an overt physical representation of the enigmatic nature of Hatcher’s
conceptualization of Hyde. The audience is given multiple versions of what is typically
understood as a singularly “evil” creation. As multiple actors play this same character,
and many times at the same time, the definitive nature of Hyde is impossible to grasp.
The Hydes often have conflicting desires – sometimes even while occupying the stage at
the same time. For instance, when Hyde encounters Elizabeth in the park, two Hydes
want to rape or kill her, while the other two want something they can’t express. Hyde
Three states: “I want [. . .]” then Hyde One says, “I want to slit you in two,” then Hyde
Three again can’t express himself, saying “I—” (28). Elizabeth is finally offered a place
to stay and agrees to go home with Hyde. Hyde Four then escorts her out of the playing
area. When the relationship is returned to later in the play, Hyde Three has become
romantically involved with Elizabeth. Hyde One and Two did not achieve their aims.
The Hydes can be interpreted as either manifestations of one being or as distinct
individuals. The “definitive” nature of the character is impossible to describe completely
and the audience is forced to consider this ambiguity for potential meanings.
39 Narrative Style
The narrative style of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is particularly theatrical. The story
is told through diary entries, police reports, police statements, lecture notes, newspaper
articles, and interview notes presented directly to the audience by ten different characters.
Of the thirty scenes in the play, twenty begin with these kinds of narrative elements.
Direct audience address is an overtly theatrical construct. When direct audience address
is used the audience’s place in the theatre is acknowledged and they are invited into the
process of creating meaning. They are not voyeurs or mere observers. By entrusting the
narrative to multiple characters Hatcher has further increased the play’s theatrical style.
The audience is forced to work harder to go beyond the text to receive and decode a story
delivered by a variety of sources.
The play’s setting in Victorian England further increases the theatricality of the
play. The culture of that place and time was about appearances, manners, and social
class. It was an era of top hats and canes, elaborate hairdos and skirt bustles – all things
that work together for the construction of a sort of theatrical façade. The use of British
dialects for communicating the location of the play is also an overtly theatrical device.
Visual Elements
The visual world suggested for this play has theatrical potential. The numerous
locations of the play and the speed at which the narrative is told make the creation of
realistic settings impractical. Hatcher suggests the use of a movable “Red Door” of
which he writes: “The Red Door will define space. The Red Door will tell us whether
40 we’re inside or outside a room or building. The Red Door must be practical; and on two
occasions during the show, at the start and the climax, it must be ‘smashed down’” (5).
The characters’ costumes also require the audience to accept theatrical constructs. There
are too many instances where the same actor plays more than one character in the same
scene, or there is not enough time for an actor to change costumes between scenes, for a
distinct costume to exist for each character. Instead, the job of characterization falls on
the actors’ physical and vocal choices and/or small costume pieces like canes, hats and
scarves which change the look of the actor. The lighting of the production must also go a
long way to theatrically delineate the various locations of the play and keep the scenes
flowing quickly and seamlessly.
Hatcher’s desire to create mystery and suspense in his plays was well established
in Chapter One of this document. Like many other elements in his plays, eliciting
mystery and suspense in an audience is an overtly theatrical aim. Creating suspense in
plays is typically achieved by giving information to an audience bit by bit and prompting
them to ask questions to which they strongly desire to discover the answers. David Ball,
in his book Backwards and Forwards calls these “forwards,” and defines them as
“anything that arouses an audience’s interest in things yet to come” (Ball 45). Hatcher
initiates this method of storytelling effectively in the play’s prologue by having the actors
speak of what they do and do not know, and then having the door smashed down to
reveal the shape of a body lying on the stage. The play’s episodic structure also aids in
the creation of these “forwards,” as the audience is always being given new stimuli,
information, and questions as each scene ends and another begins.
41 The play builds scene by scene, revealing information or character actions that
prompt subsequent action. A complete listing of the actions of the play would become a
reiteration of much of the plot synopsis, but a brief listing of the cause and effect
elements found in the first scene of the play will give the reader an understanding of the
play’s basic construction:
Out walking, Utterson and Enfield see the Red Door.
Enfield has a story about the door.
Enfield once encountered Hyde
o The encounter is reenacted. Hyde tramples a girl. Enfield
makes Hyde pay the girl for damages.
The money he paid was guaranteed by Jekyll.
As Enfield and Utterson are on their way to see Jekyll, they determine
to ask Jekyll about Hyde.
With just this brief scene the audience should be asking themselves: what will Jekyll’s
response to Utterson and Enfield’s inquiry be? What makes Hyde tick? What is the
relationship between Jekyll and Hyde? Some questions, such as what will Jekyll’s
response to their inquiry be, are answered in the next scene, while others, such as the
relationship of Jekyll to Hyde, propel much of the action for the rest of the play. It is the
combination of short-term and long- term questions like these that create the suspense
and mystery that typify this play’s dramatic action. The creation of dramatic tension in
this manner furthers the play’s theatrical qualities.
The “questions” the audience members are prompted to ask predominantly
emerge from the actions and reactions of the play’s characters. The characters have
internal desires that prompt external actions which are observed by the audience of the
42 play. What follows is a brief explanation of the construction of the play’s characters
focusing on their internal and external actions.
Many of Jekyll’s character traits in the play are very much in line with those
typically associated with the personage. He is serious, precise, and a man of
considerable intellect. His reception and integration of information throughout the play is
very quick. He is concerned with ethics and morality, and has a strong aversion to
inaccuracy and close-mindedness. While possessing these admirable qualities, Hatcher’s
Jekyll is a man at war within himself. The nature of his relationship with Hyde is an
indication of this, but even within his own realm of mental control he is in conflict. In
this play he holds the same capacity to take evil actions as Hyde. He shows irritation and
struggles to keep himself under control when talking about and interacting with Carew.
His murder of Lanyon is the most overt indication of his conflicted nature.
During the course of the play, Jekyll attempts to keep the truth of his relationship
with Hyde hidden. Initially this means lying about the nature of this relationship to
Utterson while continuing to benefit from forays as Hyde. However, when Jekyll no
longer remembers what occurs when he is Hyde, and as Utterson continues to investigate,
Jekyll’s strategies for keeping his secret begin to fail. Jekyll is about to cut himself off
from Hyde when Elizabeth enters the picture. Jekyll’s desire to find and understand
Elizabeth’s attraction to Hyde complicates his resolve. After Hyde attempts to ruin
Jekyll’s life by framing him with Carew’s murder, Jekyll reasserts his dominance by
proving Hyde was the murderer and then resolves never to take Hyde’s form again.
Jekyll thinks that he has succeeded, only to meet Elizabeth in the park and spontaneously
43 transform back into Hyde. In order to transform back, Jekyll goes to Lanyon for help.
Jekyll returns to his original form, but realizing that Lanyon will not keep his secret,
murders him. Jekyll’s attempted murder of Elizabeth at the end of the play is likewise
prompted by his desire to keep his secret safe. These overarching actions work to further
the play’s plot and strengthen the play’s thematic consideration of mankind’s attempt to
disavow parts of the self.
The identity of Hyde is tightly wrapped up in his relationship with Jekyll. The
construction of Hyde in Stevenson’s original and the myth of the creature in general has
been one of him being the complete incarnation of evil. In the play, Jekyll perpetuates
this understanding, and while Hyde takes actions that are certainly evil, his actions
regarding Elizabeth come into direct conflict with that perception. His relationship with
Elizabeth increases his awareness of Jekyll’s power, and, when Jekyll determines to keep
Hyde from Elizabeth, he launches an offensive aimed at ruining Jekyll’s life. Jekyll
outmaneuvers him, but Hyde finds the window of opportunity to reassert himself when
Jekyll inadvertently runs into Elizabeth in the park in the middle of Act Two. At the
climax of the play, Hyde then sacrifices his desire for autonomy for the life of Elizabeth.
In this way a “creature” typically understood to be evil incarnate can no longer be
understood as such.
Elizabeth, and Hyde’s interactions with her, reverse the typical understanding of
Hyde seen in most versions of this story. Her motivation for being with Hyde in the first
44 place is difficult to pinpoint, but regardless of the reasoning behind the action she wants
to be with and protect him. While her actions and true character makeup are not easily
understood, her function is clear. Jekyll is pushed off his axis by Elizabeth and her
entrance into Hyde’s life.
Jekyll has relegated the impulse-driven man to the realm of evil, and yet this
beautiful woman is found in that realm and “loves” someone that Jekyll sees as
unlovable. While Hyde is seen to be so evil by so many others, he has not been that
person to her. He has loved and cared for her. At the end of the play, she specifically
makes this point when in conversation with Jekyll about Hyde. Jekyll tells her that Hyde
is, “a vile creature, inhuman, his appetites would shame the devil. He’s hurt women, do
you know that?” She then responds with, “He never hurt me” (55). This idea that we
only know of people what we actually experience of them, ties strongly to the theme of
identity perception that runs throughout the play. Elizabeth insists that her relationship
with Hyde is completely willing, voluntary, and singular; while with Hyde after her runin with Jekyll at the hotel, she says, “I chose to come here, didn’t I? I choose every time,
I choose you!” (37).
The basic conflict between Jekyll and Hyde then becomes their mutual desire to
be free of each other. Jekyll wants freedom from Hyde’s desires so that he might
function as the perfect gentleman, and Hyde wants autonomy from Jekyll’s will.
Elizabeth acts as a catalyst for bringing the conflict to its final conclusion, and adds
greatly to the sexual nature of Jekyll’s struggle. Hyde’s interactions with her are full of
physical sexual desire, and yet Jekyll refuses to accept his own need for sexual
fulfillment, insisting instead on the primacy of rational thought. Metaphorically Jekyll
45 and Hyde can be interpreted to represent this mind versus body conflict as well as a large
number of other possibilities, but regardless of the specifics of the conflict they primarily
want to be free of one another and ultimately find this freedom unattainable.
The Others
The predominant action of the other characters in the play is to uncover the truth
about Jekyll and Hyde, but primarily they function as storytellers, and receive and/or
prompt Jekyll and/or Hyde’s actions.
Stevenson’s original text was structured around Utterson’s observations regarding
the Jekyll/Hyde story. Utterson begins the narration of Hatcher’s play as well, and his
attempt to get to the bottom of Jekyll’s relationship with Hyde prompts much of Jekyll’s
action. His character is given a bit more of a journey that the play’s other secondary
characters as is seen when he joins Elizabeth as the only characters who understand the
true identity of Hyde at the conclusion of the play.
Lanyon’s character action echoes Utterson’s concern for Jekyll – a concern that
ultimately gets him killed. Jekyll comes to Lanyon for advice and help. Lanyon also
serves as a confidant for Jekyll. Lanyon seeks to help Jekyll deal with his conflict with
Carew, and is quick to follow Jekyll’s instructions regarding the retrieval of the drawer
from Jekyll’s laboratory. Even with this care and friendship Jekyll recognizes that
Lanyon would ultimately choose to do the “right thing” before he would keep Jekyll’s
secret about Hyde safe; ultimately this results in Lanyon’s murder at the hands of Jekyll.
46 Carew
Sir Danvers Carew is the play’s only clear-cut villain. He fills the antagonist role
in the first half of the play, and even after he is murdered by Hyde, continues to facilitate
crisis; Jekyll has to contend with Hyde’s attempt to frame him with the murder. Carew
wants respect and Jekyll gives him none. Carew’s antagonism toward Jekyll creates an
opportunity for the exploration of Jekyll’s belief systems and emotions also gives the
audience an early glimpse into Jekyll’s lack of control.
Poole’s function in the play fits very well with his occupational designation as a
servant. His service of Jekyll basically serves the plot points of the play. However, there
is an interesting dynamic created as Hatcher designated that a female play the role. There
is a potential for softness and care that Poole can give Jekyll. Jekyll is unreceptive to
this, and as such Poole represents another missed opportunity for Jekyll. He needs the
unexplainable acceptance that Elizabeth represents and he is missing the love and care
that Poole might have for him.
Everyone Else
There are thirteen other characters in the play that are primarily about function.
They help tell the story, are sometimes sounding boards for important information, and
can prompt important actions from the play’s central characters. However, their personal
character journeys are predominantly unimportant to the scope of this analysis.
47 Themes
Theatre is a multi-dimensional and fluid sign system, and it is unwise to suggest
that a singular meaning is communicated to the audience as they watch any play, but as
this analysis makes clear, this is particularly true of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. As the play’s title makes apparent, it is Jekyll and Hyde or Jekyll/Hyde who is/are
at the core of this story, and as such one would assume that these characters most fully
connect to the play’s central themes. It has already been established that Hatcher is intent
on making the relationship between the two characters about something more than
“good” and “evil,” but what that something more represents is not a clear-cut idea.
Stevenson’s original predominantly dwelt on themes of good and evil, but a variety of
other metaphorical possibilities can be identified. The relationship might be read as a
Nietzschean discourse on the relative nature of good and evil, an Apollonian/Dionysian
dialectic, an evolutionary consideration of the evolved vs. primitive man, a right vs. left
brain dialectic, multiple personality disorder, Jungian psychoanalysis, chemical addiction,
and others not mentioned here. Hatcher seems to be acknowledging the possibility that
all of these ideas resonate with this story and actually includes lines, character actions,
and structural constructions for all of these conceptualizations. Some have stronger
evidence of their legitimacy than others, but no one of these ways of conceptualizing the
Jekyll/Hyde relationship is found to be fully supported with all elements of this play.
Clouded Identity
The prevalence of so many possible explanations for what Jekyll and Hyde
represent hints at the play’s main theme. Ultimately the play is about the inability that
any individual has to fully perceive himself or others. The evidence for this conclusion is
48 abundant, but a particularly telling moment is when Hatcher has Utterson say the
following when referring to the make-up of the human mind: “The bodies of water are
endless in their possibility; there is no one way of understanding” (47). Throughout the
play the characters are trying to delineate the true nature of the Jekyll and Hyde story.
The various narrators describe what they have seen and many take further action to
attempt to piece together the tale. Jekyll is attempting to perceive what Hyde is about
and up to throughout the play, and Hyde is eventually struggling with his own existence
as only part of a whole person. Pronounce judgment on the true nature of Jekyll and
Hyde is typically the main consideration when looking at this story. In this play the
characters actions significantly cloud the audiences’ ability to pronounce judgment. The
audience is asked to reconsider what these characters might represent and are in no way
given a definitive answer.
Good and Evil
Good and evil cannot be avoided as a major theme when looking at this story.
Hatcher’s consideration of the theme, however, has a fairly postmodern thrust. He seems
to suggest that there is no one way of understanding the possibilities of the human
psyche. Some acts are certainly considered more evil or good than others, but in good
intertextual fashion, Hatcher’s line between the two is not entirely clear. There is a
striving to be good that exists in mankind, but there is also an attraction to taking evil
actions. The play does a wonderful job reinforcing that evil as something that doesn’t
just exist in only the worst of us. The Hyde played by most of the actors in the play
supports this point, as do a variety of other occurrences; the most powerful of these other
occurrences is found at the end of Act Two as a Maid describes the murder of Carew by
49 Hyde. She says: “The better me [. . .] would have called out sooner [. . .] but that bad in
me [. . .] wanted to watch” (39). There may be a “better” and a “bad” in every person,
but the play seems to suggest that it is problematic to suggest that person can pronounce
which part is specifically bad or good.
Ultimately it is not a consideration of good versus evil that is at the heart of what
this play is considering as much as it is a reflection on that which is done to try and cloak
the “evil” parts of human nature. For Jekyll, emotion and passion represent undesirable
and sinful traits, and he attempts to use logic and will to overcome these things. At one
point in the play he actually says, “The will is all one needs, sin is only weakness”
(Hatcher, Dr 47). This theme is reinforced by this tale’s setting in Victorian England, a
place where societal expectations are strong and even the clothes worn restrict the wearer.
Unconditional Love
While the reason for Elizabeth loving Hyde is unexplained, the love she shows
Hyde results in him moving from a character fully associated with evil to a person who
takes self-sacrificial action. While Hyde is moving in a positive trajectory, Jekyll is
rejecting the possibility of receiving love and moving in the converse direction. It is
interesting to note that Jekyll’s choice to create Hyde may actually stem from a lack of
love in his life. He sees no place where the “evil” impulses within him can be forgiven
by others, and thus feels the need to hide them. It is then particularly significant that
Jekyll attempts to find Elizabeth after he becomes aware of her. I believe he is longing
for the type of acceptance that Elizabeth is granting Hyde, while at the same time he is
unable to comprehend or accept her love for the part of himself he deems evil. At the end
of the play his inability to comprehend results in his unwillingness to accept love that
50 could be granted to Hyde/himself. Jekyll is devastated by the thought that “love” can be
granted to a creature as horrible as Hyde, and it is not insignificant that the climax of the
play Hyde says, “She loves us,” and Jekyll responds with “She loves you!” before
attempting to kill Elizabeth. Jekyll cannot accept a love granted that he feels is not
deserved, and yet it is suggested that this kind of love does exist and can transform
someone. In these ways the power and unexplainable nature of unconditional love
becomes a theme of interest with this play.
The play’s theatrical style itself is a major theme. The audience is aware of their
presence within the theatre and how the story is being told as much as they are aware of
the character actions and ideas that they create. The play has the potential to celebrate
storytelling and the work of actors, designers, and director just as much as to tell a
specific story. The play celebrates the medium of live theatre and its abundance of
intertextual possibilities.
With Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hatcher has created a play that has intertextual
qualities, is overtly theatrical, and should entertain an audience with a suspenseful
retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story. Hatcher acknowledges the themes that the Jekyll
and Hyde story typically engender while playing with the definitive nature of those
themes through the use of theatrical devices and unexpected character action. Ultimately,
he has created an adaptation with an overtly postmodern message about the ungraspable
51 nature of human identity, and presented it in a package that celebrates the unique
experience which live theatre can be for actors and audience alike.
The Design Process
The process of staging Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a long and fruitful
collaboration between director, designers, actors, and technicians. As the director, I
guided this collaboration, unifying the production in theme and style, and was the final
arbiter of the overall design elements and actor direction. In this chapter I communicate
the conceptual approach synthesized for the production and present a narrative of the
design process delineating some of the initial thoughts, modifications, and final features
of each design element.
The Concept
A directorial concept typically emerges from an overt idea, metaphor, image,
and/or object that can be used to unify and guide the creation of the world of a play.
Ideally there is only one or two such ideas/images/metaphors/etc. that form this
“concept,” but there is no hard and fast rule defining “concept.” With Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde I hoped to find one specific object or material that could give the design team
concrete direction for their work. I did not ultimately settle on one such thing, but found
three. Each strongly resonated with the themes of the play, had metaphorical and
practical implications for guiding the designers, and possessed a strong level of
53 The three things selected for my directorial concept were: clouding, the right and
left brain, and wrought iron. As was discussed in Chapter Two, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
considers themes of identity and perception, with a special emphasis on the inability to
pronounce someone as either good or evil. Therefore, the play is ultimately about the
inability any individual has to fully perceive himself or others. For the purpose of
initiating a concept for this production, I chose to describe this inability as “clouded
perception.” “Clouded perception” immediately initiated a variety of evocative
possibilities for stylizing the staging, sound, and lighting of the play. This idea was
particularly provocative when considering what could and could not be seen and/or
understood during each moment of the play, but as the idea literally implies, it alone
would give the designers only clouded connotations on which to build their designs.
The conflict between Jekyll and Hyde and their inability to fully perceive and
control one another generates the majority of the play’s dramatic action; finding a
conceptual metaphor that tied this conflict to clouded perception became my goal. At its
core, the conflict has a variety of possible interpretations, but in this play there is a case
made for a potential collaboration between the two characters. The conceptual object
needed to encompass this collaboration. As I spent time thinking about the play, their
conflict/collaboration was something that I began to associate with the right and left
hemispheres of the brain. A variety of ideas and functions are typically associated with
each half of the brain. The left brain is associated with logic, details, facts, words and
language, math and science, knowledge, and reality. The right brain is associated with
feeling, imagination, symbols and images, intuition, fantasy, possibilities, impetuousness
and risk taking. The characteristics of each hemisphere of the brain can be directly
54 connected to the bifurcated make-up of Jekyll and Hyde. The two hemispheres are
intrinsically linked and required for the fullest level of human perception to occur, which
Jekyll cannot accept.
Ultimately I felt that “clouded perception,” and the “left and right brain” failed to
give the design team the concrete image or object that was still needed to further inspire
the design choices. After making this conclusion I chose wrought iron to complete the
design concept. Wrought iron work proliferated at the time and in the setting of the play.
It also contained a variety of interesting metaphorical possibilities that could tie it to the
characters and ideas of the play, as well as encompass ideas of clouding and the left/right
brain. Wrought iron objects partially obscure (cloud) that which they surround. Dr.
Jekyll’s left brain character traits of rigidity, calculation, and coolness all tie him to the
material. Typically, wrought iron objects are overtly repetitive and equal distant, but
flourishes of wild curves and elaborate details are often placed within and on the ends of
the work. The repetition and equidistance features found in wrought iron work connect it
to the left brain (Jekyll) while the flourishes could be read as right brain features (Hyde).
Jekyll’s attempt to cage Hyde is also concretely represented with this material – it was
literally used to create cages and prisons.
It is also interesting to note that it is only through heat that wrought iron can be
manipulated and formed into something beautiful. This idea further connects the material
to Jekyll and Hyde. If the heat is too great, it will destroy the iron, but if the heat is
eliminated, the iron is forever trapped in its ugly, rigid, and cold basic state. Heat can
transform the iron into the strongest manifestation of strength and beauty. It is hard work
navigating the balance between the two substances; strong blows are required to achieve
55 desired results. The balance of the heat and iron, and the strength and skill required to
manipulate the two might also be seen as a metaphor for humanity’s struggle to master its
“Hyde” nature.
Attempting to achieve the perfect balance between audience expectations and
artistic innovations is at the core of using a concept effectively. With any production, the
director must decide how his “concept” will be integrated into that which the audience
experiences. I desired to keep the story rooted in its time and place and not let the
metaphorical overlays of cloudiness, right/left brain dialectic, and wrought iron too
overtly affect the style of the production. The play takes place in London in the 1880s. It
may be a clouded, obscured, and distorted world characterized by the attempt to cage the
volatile, but the audience should still see and feel things that are grounded in the play’s
setting. Actors need to create characters guided by the speech and cultural constructs of
the time and place. Costumes should be designed around the expected silhouette. The
effective use of my concept would be a process of integrating clouding, the right and left
brain, and wrought iron with the historical, cultural, and geographical world of the play.
The Process of Collaboration
At Baylor, a large number of resources, artists, and technicians contribute to the
product that the audience encounters. Designers, technicians, and a delineated division of
staff and student labor combine skills to mount a detailed production. It is the director’s
responsibility to create a vision for the play which allows designers to contribute. The
director must facilitate collaboration throughout the production process and approve all
final design choices. What follows is a description of the overall design process for Dr.
56 Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from initial meetings and conversations with the designers through
the opening night of the production.
The design process began with informal meetings in which the individual
designers and I discussed the ideas on which the play was built. In these meetings I
presented my conceptual ideas and images and we discussed the potential ways these
things might manifest themselves in the actual designs. I also presented the designers
with a variety of photos of wrought iron pieces and a couple of images from a MercedesBenz advertisement campaign that focused on the right and left brain qualities of their
vehicles (See Appendix A. Fig. 1 through Fig. 6). I was particularly attracted to the color
scheme of Fig. 1 and the lines of Fig. 2.
After these initial one-on-one meetings, an official “design meeting” transpired,
attended by all the designers, their mentors, the technical director, and the master
electrician. For this production the scenic and sound designers were faculty members and
the rest of the designers were undergraduate students receiving oversight and mentorship
from faculty members. While having already spoken to all the designers about the
concept guiding the production, this initial meeting became a forum for my reiterating the
director’s concept for the designer’s mentors. The designers did not have any designs to
show each other at that time, and there was an awkward feeling of “What is this meeting
for?” My hope was that bouncing ideas off one another before the designs were created
and attempting to achieve a strong level of integration among the various design elements
might occur at that stage of the process. As such, the next meeting was scheduled for just
the main designers to attend.
57 At this second meeting I asked the designers to contribute and agree upon words
they thought effectively described what they saw, heard, and felt when they read the play.
Several words surfaced during the discussion that I found intriguing and useful: cold,
cloudy, constricted, damp, distressed, and lacking solidity. All these ideas were
encompassed in my concept of the show, but by speaking in this manner with the
designers, I felt a deeper sense of connection and collaboration occurred. The discussion
transitioned smoothly into a conversation on the beginning of the design and production
Of particular importance in the later part of the meeting was the discussion of the
color pallet to be used for the production, and a consideration of how the colors of the set,
lights, and costumes would work together and aid in the storytelling. The use of color
would be limited in the initial Jekyll scenes. Saturated colors, mirroring the costume
accents, would be added during scenes in which Hyde is prominently featured. The
world of the play would predominantly be one of cool blue exterior spaces and dim
amber for indoor settings. The Hyde colors were all strongly saturated blues, purples,
greens, and oranges. A subtle use of the Hyde coloration would be used on some of the
scenic elements, but they would predominantly be dark grays and blacks.
Throughout the rest of the design period, the designers met in smaller groups and
individually with me to show their progress, discuss how the various design elements
could continue to be integrated with one another, and ask me for my thoughts and/or final
decisions. Subsequent meetings attended by the whole production team then became
official “production meetings” concerned with production logistics and updates for
everyone on developments in the building process. I did find it necessary to act as a go-
58 between for some of the designers, as a lack of communication between them was
sometimes evident. Collaboration with each designer varied, and will be addressed along
with their individual designs throughout the remainder of this chapter.
Even with the relatively recent publication of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, there have
already been several productions staged in proscenium, arena, and thrust theatre spaces.
As a director who is drawn to theatre because of the way it brings a community together,
and because the theatrical style of the play particularly suits this type of theatre
arrangement, I felt that presenting the play in a thrust space would be most advantageous.
The collaborative relationship between the audience and the actors is particularly
enhanced in a thrust space. As such, I chose to stage the play in Baylor’s Mabee Theatre.
The Mabee is a three-quarter thrust theatre in which the audience is elevated at a slight
angle, and surrounds the stage in a semi-circular arrangement. The space seats roughly
240 people, but maintains an intimate atmosphere; no seat is more than eight rows from
the stage. The stage itself has an asymmetrical octagonal shape surrounded on three sides
by a “moat” that descends three steps from stage level (See Appendix A. Fig 7). The staging possibilities of the Mabee were particularly suited for my
interpretation of Hatcher’s script. The multiplicity of angles and views available to
audience members is a particularly valuable asset for highlighting the play’s theme of
clouded perception. The play’s overt theatrical style suggests an actor/audience
relationship and collaboration that would be encouraged in the Mabee’s intimate space.
The various narrative elements of the play also suggest the need to have multiple
locations close to the audience to present the testimonies, diary entries, newspaper
59 articles, etc. – the space offers an abundance of such locations. The original production
of the play was inspired by a late nineteenth century “dissection theatre” as the basic
scenic design element, and the Mabee intrinsically suggests this type of architecture. The
possibility of filling the moat with fog (a literal cloud) was also exciting to me.
Scenic Design
The scenic design process for any play typically begins by considering the basic
staging requirements of the script. For Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, these staging demands
initially appear particularly plentiful. The play is set in fifteen separate locations, and of
the play’s thirty scenes no location is repeated consecutively. It would have been a
monumental task to realistically represent each of these locations while maintaining the
continuity of the action and the audience’s interest. The play is intended to flow quickly
and seamlessly. Hatcher includes production notes at the beginning of his script that
state: “The play is designed for maximum speed and movement, so transition time must
be kept to an absolute minimum” (Hatcher, Dr 5). He advises that “moveable desks,
chairs, serving tables, lab tables, hospital gurneys, and the like” might be used to suggest
location, and insists on the use of a movable red door that is “vital for any production”
(5). Through the use of this door, Hatcher suggests all space delineation can be created.
The theatrical nature of this convention was one of the things that originally attracted me
to the script, and as I discussed the scenic requirements of the play with the designer I
found that he shared my initial impression that the show did not require any scenic
elements beyond this door (and possibly a gurney for the dissection scene).
The problem with staging the play with only these elements is that a flat surface is
required on which they must move. The integration of levels in staging provides a
60 director with the potential to create stronger stage pictures than can be created on a flat
stage. The steps and the moat at the edge of the stage in the Mabee could be utilized to
give more options with which to work, but those spaces are too small to stage any of the
lengthier scenes, and are a bit too close to the audience to be used during the play’s more
violent moments – moments that are particularly suited for dynamic level usage.
Hatcher’s suggestion that the incorporation of a chair or two to delineate space and create
variety seemed reasonable, but these elements would need to seamlessly appear and
disappear between scenes. Carrying scenic pieces up the three steps from the moat would
be unwieldy, and as the only level entrance into the Mabee is upstage, rolling these pieces
in and out could not be accomplished seamlessly.
Taking a cue from Hatcher’s red door idea, we then considered the incorporation
of another larger, moving scenic unit that could transform the architecture of the space
and create more levels with which to stage the play. The designer built an initial onequarter inch scale model that could be moved about and examined for its possible use
throughout the course of the play. The first permutation of this unit had sides that could
represent various locations of the play, and a “bridge” above the unit. This design
primarily suggested that it would function as a “backdrop” for the action. This aspect of
the unit felt out of tune with the clouded world suggested by my concept, and, as the
design only offered one additional playing level (the bridge), it failed to achieve my
desired goals. As the designer and I continued to talk about the unit we concluded that it
needed to be more skeletal and contain more areas and levels for acting. A new model
was created that I once again considered for possible usage for establishing each location
of the play and the transitions between the locations. This second design successfully
61 addressed the majority of the concerns we had with the first, and over the next couple of
weeks, the designer and I continued to make small modifications to the unit based on
further consideration of how it might function in performance. The final design of the
unit can be seen in Appendix B. Fig. 3, and a fuller description of its features and how it
was used will follow shortly.
Staging a play in the Mabee Theatre requires playing areas down-stage right and
down-stage left where actors might stand and sit while looking diagonally back upstage
at fellow actors. This is important because the audience at the extreme left and right
sides of the seating area will never have the opportunity to see the fronts of the actors if
they are not periodically positioned in this manner. The scenic unit only somewhat
addressed these needs. Actors could stand or sit next to or on the scenic unit upstage
center while others could stand in the downstage corners, but there was nothing in the
downstage areas on which the actors could sit or interact. Placing furniture pieces in
these areas could solve this problem, but as this necessitated these furniture pieces
needing to be carried up the steps out of the moat, this answer was found inadequate. A
solution to the problem was found once the width of the performance space was
considered. For some scenes the actors needed more stage space next to the scenic unit
than existed with the steps of the moat exposed. As such, a slightly extended downstageleft and downstage-right playing area covering part of the moat would be useful. The
placement of these platforms one step down from the main stage deck was the obvious
choice, as this would avoid the creation of a peculiar shaped stage deck and give more
levels with which to work. This new feature could then accommodate the integration of a
62 few furniture pieces which could be placed on these platforms slightly out of the way,
and then seamlessly placed on the main deck when needed.
I requested that one additional playing area be added to the architecture of the
theatre space. Above the stage right vomitorium would be placed a small, three-foot-byfour-foot platform on which one actor could stand and deliver lines. The proximity of the
perch to the audience would be useful for creating audience identification with the actors,
and during times of strong visual action (specifically when the body of the prostitute is
replaced with the pig and during the murder of Carew) the space would function as the
ideal location for the delivery of the narration of the events. The action on the stage
would not be muddied by the narrator’s presence, and the audience would likely feel
added awareness of their own status as a witness of the violence (See Appendix B. Fig. 2
to see a ground plan of the playing spaces).
Diagrams of the scenic unit are included in the appendices (See Appendix. B Fig.
3 through 5), but a brief description of the structure and how it functioned follows. The
unit was multi-sided, with each side, interior spaces, and upper bridge used in a variety of
manners. When staging something on the bridge, the unit could be moved all the way
downstage without obstructing the audiences’ view of the action. The bridge was used
during the park scenes and when Hyde carves into the back of the prostitute. Elevated
more than two feet above the deck was a platform that made up much of the “interior” of
the unit. It was in this space that I chose to place Hyde’s room. For Jekyll’s home and
the hotel room, there was a skeletal wall and bench on one side of the unit that could be
placed at different angles to represent these two locations. For the dissection lab and
Lanyon’s surgery, the steep-stepped stairs to the bridge were oriented toward the
63 audience. In addition to these features, actors could pass though the unit front to back
with the climbing and descending of a few stairs. On the bridge side of the unit the steps
were used to represent an alley. The walls of the unit were also constructed in a skeletal
enough manner that they could be climbed by the actors. In all, the architecture of the
unit created exciting possibilities for staging and suggesting locations, and gave me the
levels that I desired to use in staging the play.
The design motifs of the scenic unit did not emerge separate from the
architectural discussions. My initial concept specified the integration of wrought iron
into the scenic designs and this desire was kept in mind throughout the early design
conversations. The material and typical motifs rooted the play in its proper place and
time, connected to the play’s themes, and were easily affixed to the scenic unit that we
were discussing. With Hyde’s room being placed at the center of the unit, I was
particularly excited by the “caging in” that walls and the material suggested.
Choosing the shape of the wrought iron features was a process of looking through
catalogues of wrought iron designs and finding those that the designer and I felt were
right for the play. I wanted there to be a balance of both straight and curved lines and so
I shied away from patterns that were too overtly “gothic” or romantic in their flourishes.
The number of these features was also an important consideration. We decided to place
these wrought iron designs on about half the framework of the unit – leaving large
sections of the unit in its more skeletal state (See Appendix B Fig. 5).
In the skeletal world that was created, the red door existed as one of the only solid
scenic pieces. The designer selected a period door design with a height of seven feet with
a pediment above. This extra-tall design feature utilized the height of the Mabee and
64 increased the ominous nature of the door for dramatic effect. The door’s casing was
inspired by the Victorian style, but on the outer edge metal rods were affixed to tie the
door to the other design elements and to aid as hand grips for the actors as they moved
the door about the stage (See Appendix B. Fig. 6).
To visually frame the scenic unit and reinforce the characteristics of nineteenth
century London, the designer also designed two large faux brick pillars on each side of
the space’s proscenium arch (See Appendix B. Fig 2 for placement locations). The brick
work would not be uniformly present on the whole surface of these pillars, which was
ultimately a choice informed by the reduction in costs it would create and was supported
aesthetically by the conceptual desire for the world to not be fully solid. On the back
wall of the theatre space additional patches of this brick work were also placed.
Matching brick work was also painted on selected parts of the stage. With the bricks on
the walls and floor, the use of some pearlescent paint highlighted the spaces between the
bricks to make it appear as if some dampness or puddling of water existed.
As previously mentioned, the script does not overtly require an abundance of
scenic elements. However, a representation of Jekyll’s laboratory is called for in the
play, and this requirement created a conflict of style and expectations. The iconic nature
of the Victorian laboratory and the “mad scientist” is one of the areas of audience
expectation that I felt could not be completely ignored. Jekyll’s transformation into Hyde
in his laboratory is such an iconic moment that I felt it must take place in a recognizable
laboratory. We chose to represent the laboratory with a table that would roll out of the
stage left vomitorium and be incorporated into the downstage left playing space. This
location for the lab became the obvious choice as Jekyll could remain in the lab as a
65 secondary area of focus while Hyde meets with Elizabeth and murders Carew at the end
of Act One. I desired for the murder to take place on top of the bridge with the scenic
unit rolled all the way into the middle of the stage. As such, the lab had to be placed on
the side playing area (See Appendix B Fig. 2 for placement).
The selection of the furniture pieces became the last hurdle to completing the
three-dimensional elements of the scenic design. Because I desired this furniture to
remain visible to the audience throughout the play, tying its design to the skeletal nature
of the other scenic design features led to the consideration of wrought iron furniture. One
of these pieces would be used in the park scene to represent a bench, but it also would be
used indoors. As such, finding wrought iron furniture became our goal.
A gurney is called for in two scenes, and a bed is called for in a third. Keeping in
line with the theme of transformation of space and character, I asked the designer and
technical director if it would be possible to create one furniture piece that could change
heights and be used as a gurney, a bed, and potentially a table or desk. Flaps that folded
down to desk size would mean it could remain on the stage throughout the performance
with the rest of the scenic elements.
The last architectural design element was the incorporation of street lamps. The
designer was interested in using the height of the Mabee in some way, and felt having
lamp posts sticking out of the scenic unit at various places and towering above the space
would be visually striking, while also incorporating more overtly Victorian elements.
The use of these lamps also fit into the metaphorical understanding of Jekyll and Hyde –
wrought iron and heat are the basic elements of these lamps. The placements of lamps
66 emerging from the vomitories were added to help tie the scenic unit into the surrounding
The selection of the color of the scenic elements was primarily informed by
thinking of the setting of the play as Jekyll’s domain and using the Mercedes image as
inspiration (See Appendix A. Fig 1). It is a left-brain world – cold and calculated. We
chose to restrict the colors used on the set primarily to charcoals and black and hints of
blue. However, the designer did incorporate hints of the colors in the “Hyde palette” in
the brick work on the walls and floor of the theatre space. More saturated versions of
these colors were incorporated into costume and lighting elements of the play.
Before the building of the scenic unit began, I was very concerned with the ease
of movement and the noise it would create while moving. I could only spare three actors
to move the unit for some of the scene changes, and there was some fear on my part that
the unit would be too heavy for them to move and would require additional stage hands –
something that I wanted to avoid if at all possible. If the unit was too heavy and loud to
be used at the speed and specific moments I had envisioned, the quality of the production
would be reduced substantially. We took the risk, hoped for the best, and construction
began on the piece.
As the scenic unit was being built, a variety of modifications to the initial designs
were required. Throughout the building process the unit was used for evening rehearsals.
As each new feature was completed, the actors and I had a chance to experiment with the
piece. In this way we were able to give the designer and technical director feedback as to
the ease of use of the design as well as modifications that might be helpful. The changes
for the design that were of most significance were as follows: the bench seat was
67 modified to have a hinged lid installed that could be opened for props storage, some of
the quatrefoil was left off the wall so the actors could scale it more efficiently, and part of
the wrought iron fence on the bridge was removed so that actors could slip in and out of
the fenced-in area on the non-stairs side of the unit.
The door presented a variety of challenges for the technical director. It needed to
be free-standing, easily manipulated and moved by a single actor, and must be knocked
off its hinges at the beginning and end of the play. In the first instance the door also
needed to be put back on its hinges on stage in the course of about ten seconds. The door
was not completed until technical rehearsals began. The frame was integrated seamlessly
into the last couple of rehearsals before tech, but the late incorporation of the actual door
ultimately proved problematic. It was ingeniously designed to achieve all the demands
asked of it. Two horizontal pivot points were engineered into the bottom of the door, and
with the insertion of a pin and the pulling of a lever, the door could fall in a controlled
manner out of the door frame (See Appendix B. Fig. 7 and 8). To reattach the door, the
lever needed to be pulled back up, the door lifted into place, the lever pushed back down,
the pin removed, and then the door would function normally again. However, at the first
technical rehearsal, opening night, and one other instance, this process was not followed
correctly by the actors and the hinge of the door was bent. This made it impossible to
reattach the door during the action of the play. When this happened on opening night, the
door was wheeled off stage during the course of the action, but could not be fixed for the
night’s performance. The door was removed from the frame and the show continued
with just the use of the frame to delineate space. When the door malfunctioned a second
68 night, the backstage crew was able to fix it off-stage during the course of the action and it
was missed for only two scenes.
The transforming gurney piece that I initially envisioned for the play was found to
be too complicated to design and build, but the technical director did succeed at building
a piece that could be easily rolled about the space and adjusted for height for the hotel
scene. Mirroring the door and the scenic unit, the piece was constructed from steel. The
top surface was wrapped in luan and painted to look like a dull gray marble (See
Appendix B. Fig. 9). It was used in five scenes, but remained offstage during the rest of
the play – this and the lab table being the only scenic piece for which this occurred.
A metal bench that was part of the Baylor stock was modified to feature the same
quatrefoil design feature in the main wall of the scenic unit (See Appendix B. Fig. 10). A
chair that featured wrought iron design was never acquired for the set, but a period
appropriate wooden chair was settled upon (See Appendix B. Fig. 11). Both of these
items fulfilled their purpose and could be quickly placed on the main stage deck and
returned to their places on the side stage areas for actors to sit upon and watch the action
of the play.
Lighting Design
While the least concrete element of theatrical design, lighting holds the most
potential for focusing the action of the play for the audience. For a production like Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where the story is fast paced and settings suddenly shift from one to
another, telling the audience where to look and establishing distinct locations with lights
would be crucial. The dramatic world of shadows and clouding that I envisioned for the
play could be greatly enhanced through the lighting design.
69 Discussing the angles and sources of the light, the designer and I decided upon
limiting the number of instruments used while utilizing steep lighting angles. By limiting
the number of instruments to light a scene, stronger shadows could be cast though the
scenic pieces and by the actors. The shadows that would be cast as light passing through
the scenic unit’s wrought iron work was particularly exciting. Selected use of up light
was also discussed and planned for – placing up lights in the moat, under the bridge, and
at the bottom of the perch would all be useful for creating otherworldly looks for many of
the actions which would take place on the stage. I was particularly concerned with
finding the right balance of engagement and yet distance for the audience during the more
gruesome moments of the play, and the use of backlighting during these sections was
agreed upon as the solution to this challenge.
The collaboration between the scenic and lighting designers resulted in very
fruitful possibilities for light placement and usage. The scenic designer designed added
stage right and left platforms as well as the base of the scenic unit to be slatted wood that
lights could shine through from below. The multi-directional spray of up light ribbons
that these created was a wonderful effect to integrate into the play’s action – an effect that
we choose to incorporate at moments in the play when Hyde was acting as aggressor (See
Appendix C Fig 1). The scenic designer’s incorporation of lamps was also a striking
visual tool given to the lighting designer. Distinguishing between outdoor and indoor
spaces though the use of these lights was instrumental in telling the story. Through the
collaboration of the scenic and lighting designers a way to light the red door from within
its casing was also discovered. This feature made it possible to adjust the hue and
saturation of the door and created a solution to the problem of trying to focus lighting
70 instruments on the door for every location that the door moves to throughout the play
(See Appendix C. Fig. 2).
The intensity and quality of the light was discussed in detail. We envisioned
much of the action of the play in dim lighting that would shroud the actors in mystery.
We knew that finding the appropriate levels for the lights would become an area of focus
once we reached technical rehearsals. The quality of the light would need to vary based
on the scene that would be lit, but in general, a defusing of the edges of the light seemed
appropriate for most of the locations in the play. In this way the blackness could hover
around the lit spaces, and as the lights shifted, a previously dark area of the stage could
The use of haze for creating stronger architectural delineation of space was also
decided upon; the clouding and obscuring that this haze would create tied directly to the
show’s concept. Low-lying fog filling the moat throughout the performance was an
exciting feature that we wanted to integrate into the production, and I liked the idea of it
periodically drifting up onto the stage deck.
The selection of color is always a strong part of the lighting design equation. For
this production we chose colors that connected to the overall feeling of the world of the
play and historical expectations. Some colors were also chosen through the consideration
of the Hydes that dominated individual scenes. The lighting designer designed the show
as a part of his honors thesis, and his description of the overall use of color follows:
In order to achieve the various looks necessary to tell the story and
enhance the themes [. . .] the use of very saturated colors is necessary.
Outside of a few exceptions for practical reasons, the color choices for the
show will stay within the cooler spectrum, specifically blue with some
shades leaning slightly more toward purple and some which are more
green [sic] in color. Added to this base color selection will be some darker
71 green and purple which can mix with the blues to keep the various scenes
from looking too similar. In order to achieve a slightly warmer feel for the
interior scenes and the scenes which happen during the day, there will be a
system of warmer lights, however, in order to keep the world of the play
feeling colder, these colors will be less saturated. (Main)
The designer’s reference to “enhancing themes” refers to the saturated colors that
dominated when the various Hydes were the focal point of the action. Using the
Mercedes image (See Appendix C Fig. 3), saturated colors were chosen that associated
with the various Hydes. “Exceptions for practical reasons” refers to the use of warmer
face lighting. With the exception of the park scenes, the exterior spaces were
predominantly visited at night time. The street lamps cast an amber glow in these
situations, but the blues of the night proliferated. Transitions in the play were also lit in
hues of blue or green.
The designer began attending runs of the show early in the rehearsal process and
we would discuss general and specific effects that he and I both envisioned for different
moments of the play before, during, and after these runs. We quickly recognized that a
challenge to designing the show would be the likelihood of placement of the scenic unit
lacking consistency. My hope was that the actors would get better at hitting the correct
spots with the unit as we continued to work, but even if they were off a foot or two, the
lighting could potentially suffer. Of particular concern were some of the special lighting
effects that were envisioned or called for in the script. For instance, in the moment when
Utterson meets Hyde at the door, a hansom cab passes by and is supposed to cast a light
on Hyde. The solution that we decided upon was to open up the lighting of the playing
areas to be a bit larger than would be used in a fixed-set play, and then just hope that the
actors could place the unit in the right locations for the special lighting effects.
72 As expected, a substantial amount of fine tuning of the lighting occurred during
the technical and dress rehearsals. Sharper cuts of light were deemed necessary for many
of the narration portions of the play. Unlike the ever-shifting nature of the scene unit,
specific narration spots could be reused throughout the play, and shooting a narrow beam
of down light upon these narrations isolated them from the other action of the play and
aided in storytelling (See Appendix C. Fig 3). These lighting effects focused the
audience’s attention. Quicker shifts of light between many of the scenes were also
needed, as the momentum of the play and the dramatic effect of quick shifts in lighting
were being lost with the initial programming of the lighting cues. Some of the color
choices and lighting intensities were also adjusted during this part of the process. None
of these were very dramatic, but we did encounter a moment where the lighting designer
had clearly misread the action of a scene. The park scene, where Utterson and Jekyll
discuss the makeup of the human mind, takes place in springtime in the middle of the
day. This moment in the play should feel very different from what went before. Jekyll
has supposedly bested Hyde and it is now springtime in the park. The designer had
maintained the dark and shadowed look used throughout much of the play with this
scene. The oversight was quickly remedied, and the final look appropriately
communicated the mood, season, time of day, and location of the scene. The
transformation of the lighting as Jekyll encounters Elizabeth and changes into Hyde was
then all the more striking.
The fog proved to be a bit problematic. The fog machines were too loud and did
not initially evenly distribute the fog through the whole moat. Two fog machines were
employed and one produced substantially less fog than the other. It was discovered that
73 the exhaust hose of the under-producing machine had been routed in such a manner that
its fog output was reduced. To remedy these problems the placement of the machines
was changed and they were both insulated for sound. In the new position, the underproducing fog machine created an adequate output to fill the moat. However, this did not
solve all of our fog problems. The fog the machines produced did not stay “low lying” in
the manner we had hoped. A fair amount would rise out of the moat and envelop the
audience members sitting in the first row of the theatre. Patrons were often seen using
their programs to fan the fog away from their faces. The use of fog had almost been
abandoned during the technical rehearsals because of the noise, and then again during the
run of the show because of the discomfort it gave the patrons, but ultimately I chose to
keep it for its thematic resonance and the visual interest it created for the majority of the
audience (See Appendix C. Fig. 5).
Costume Design
When approaching the costume needs of a play, a consideration of the role the
costumes might have in the storytelling must take place. For this play, I initially felt it
wise for the costumes to root the play in its time period. While the world of the play
would be clouded, and the set skeletal in its construction, the costumes could fully root
the play in its time and place.
The designers, two undergraduates, appreciated the specificity of this desire to
create historically accurate costumes and in turn researched the silhouettes and colors of
1880s London. The restrictive nature of the historical costumes also spoke to me in an
interesting way metaphorically. It strongly echoed the “holding in” and attempt to
“modify appearance” that the Jekyll and Hyde story addressed. My initial thought was to
74 have an interchangeable-looking base costume for everyone but Jekyll and Elizabeth.
This would allow the addition and subtraction of simple costume pieces to reinforce their
character changes. Their basic uniformity of look would hopefully suggest to audience
members that the characters in the play (including Hyde) could just as well be any one of
This desire for uniformity of look was something that I quickly had to abandon
because of the financial constraints for the production – the costume shop could not buy
or build multiple identical suits. Ultimately, we decided that the silhouettes could vary,
and unity of look would be established through the use of outer garments (suit jackets and
pants) that were of similar colors. As such, I asked the designers to root the majority of
the costume pieces in shades of gray or black. This would unify the overall look of the
ensemble of actors. Beneath the grays we could then use various accent colors for the
different Hydes. I liked the way that this might speak to the multiplicity and vividness of
the Hyde character permutations and his attempt to escape from Jekyll’s gray world. As
the designers considered these other colors, they found that very saturated hues were
popular in the late 1800s because of the invention of new dyes. Serendipitously, the
colors from the Mercedes image (Appendix A. Fig. 1) matched these historical ones.
With the addition of two female roles (a choice that will be detailed in Chapter
Four), it was necessary to determine whether to have these actors wear suits as was
planned for the other four ensemble members. For the original female Hyde, who also
plays Jekyll’s butler, putting the actor in a dress was never really considered (a point that
will be discussed in more length in Chapter Five). As her suit and the men’s suits would
vary slightly in cut, it seemed best to create further variety of silhouette by having the
75 additional women wear dresses. This meant that these female actors would play some
male characters while wearing dresses, and the female playing Poole played female
characters while wearing male clothing; the choice was not outside of the precedent being
With multiple actors playing the Hyde role, indicating who was playing Hyde at
any one time would be an important storytelling challenge. The designers suggested we
use matching bowler hats that the actors would wear when they represented the character,
and this quickly became the plan. The hats were incorporated early in the rehearsal
process and proved effective at fulfilling their intended purpose.
The selection of accent colors for the characters emerged from the design team’s
early discussions of the play and inspiration of the Mercedes picture (See Appendix A
Fig. 1). These fabrics were used to make the vests, bodices, and neckwear the actors
would wear. These elements were then predominantly covered for non-Hyde
characterization by the ensemble and revealed when they were Hyde. For Jekyll, the
accent colors were not found in the design image but were rooted in his character
makeup, and a pattern of silver and blue was selected (See Appendix D. Fig. 1).
With Elizabeth, the costume designers created a costume that was not influenced
by the grays, blacks, or other colors found within the design image. The dress was a dark
green (See Appendix D. Fig. 2). Ultimately, the dress was not created to reflect the social
standing of the character, but was instead influenced by the designer’s desire to make the
character attractive and period appropriate. This choice by the designers is one that I
questioned at the time but did not dwell on as deeply as I would have liked. In retrospect,
76 I think it would have served the story better to have a costume that was more
representative of the character’s social status.
I was very pleased with the final look of the costumes (See Appendix D. Fig. 3).
They were rooted in the time period, and the use of various silhouettes and accent colors
made for visual interest that would have been lost if my original idea for uniformity had
been followed. The variety of the final designs more fully integrated my desire for Hyde
to be seen within each person. The use of costume pieces in addition to the base
costumes to indicate character changes was also effective. The use of bowler hats, cane,
and the revealing of colored vests to indicate the actors were playing Hyde clearly
communicated a potentially confusing aspect of the play. There were additional costume
pieces that were planned for characters that were not able to be integrated into the
performance because of time restraints and ease of use, but this occurrence did not detract
from the overall quality of the costume design.
Hair and Makeup Design
The hair and makeup choices were primarily inspired by historical trends. As all
but Jekyll and Elizabeth would be playing multiple roles, nothing overly character
specific could guide the look of the actors in the ensemble. A variety of historically
accurate looks were created based on the hair that these actors possessed.
The men in the cast could each grow various amounts of facial hair, and this
ability dictated their facial hair possibilities. For Jekyll, we choose a predominantly
clean-shaven look with a mustache. This set him apart from the others effectively. The
actor playing Lanyon and Hyde Three had the fullest facial hair, and the look chosen for
him utilized this feature while leaving a small track of his chin shaved for period
77 appropriateness (See Appendix D Fig. 4). The other two male actors sported as much
sideburns as they could grow and shaved their chins and upper lips. The hair styles of the
men featured a slightly slicked-down appearance with side parts and close cut sides and
The female actors’ hair included more variety. For the first female ensemble
member, who wore men’s dress and played only male characters, a low bun that pulled
her hair out of the way for a more masculine look was chosen (See Appendix D. Fig. 5).
For the other two female ensemble members, we choose hair styles that were period
inspired but not too outlandish, and hair pieces were used for both actors to supplement
their shorter hair (See Appendix D. Fig. 6). For Elizabeth, dying her hair red for thematic
reasons was considered, but as hair pieces would be needed to achieve the elaborate
styles of the day, the designer didn’t think she would be able to find ones that matched
whatever color the dye ended up making her hair. As such, the actor’s blond hair would
remain, and matching hair pieces were already available to the designer from the Baylor
stock (See Appendix D. Fig. 7).
For makeup, a minimalist approach was taken. The men used a bit of makeup to
highlight their eyes, and some applied mascara to their facial hair to help it read better.
The woman playing Poole had makeup that predominantly matched that of the men. The
other three women in the cast wore just a bit of eyeliner, blush, and eye shadow, but
nothing overly dramatic. A subtle period-appropriate look was the aim.
Sound Design
The sound design was a major concern of mine early in the process of thinking
about this play. The action and dialogue of the script has the very real possibility of
78 causing audience member to become aware of its melodramatic tone and question the
play’s believability. As such, I felt effective underscoring of the piece could go a long
way toward minimizing the audience’s awareness of the play’s melodramatic tone.
Music is particularly well suited for pulling in the attention of the listener and creating
emotional manipulation – I was not against working on an audience’s psyche in this
manner. Discovering effective underscoring then became a major area of effort on the
part of the sound designer and myself. Original music was composed for the piece for its
world premiere, but I knew that our production team lacked the time or resources to
attempt a similar approach.
The style of sound that might be used for underscoring became our first area of
consideration. Having rooted the other design elements in period appropriateness, it
seemed fitting to make this a precedent with the sound design as well. If we were going
to “cloud” or “distort” the sound in some way to fit with the design concept, we would do
so with music and instrumentation that was not outside of what the audience associated
with Victorian England. However, we also wondered if a soundscape design might not
be inappropriate. The sound designer’s initial written concept for the show was as
The world of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one shrouded in disillusion.
Things are not what they seem (or sound like). Though the show does not
necessarily call for a lot of sound effects, there are a lot of opportunities
for added sound effects (doors opening and closing, swords slashing, vocal
alteration, etc). A good amount of underscoring on several scenes will
help to set the tone of the play as well as help to transition from scene to
scene seamlessly. (Redmer) A soundscape made up of environmental sounds could have been a very interesting
possibility, but we quickly found that there were very few environmental sounds called
79 for in the play or from the era that would work, and abandoned this idea for more musicbased underscoring. In particular, string and piano instrumentation seemed the most
The integration of the music with the play’s action was a major area of
concentration. Like the drifting in and out of characters and scenes that distinguish the
play’s style, my hope was that the underscoring could likewise move from almost
unperceivable to a prominent feature and back again throughout the course of the play. I
hoped that it could reinforce the physical and/or psychological action of the characters.
Overtly melodic and/or rhythmically busy music would likely interfere with the
audience’s ability to process the duel stimuli of the music and dialogue they would be
hearing, but I wanted the music to impact the audience emotionally. Another concern
was that the music could not be well known, as the artists or associations the audience
might have with the music would remove them from their engagement in the action of the
Music searches on the internet ultimately resulted in the discovery of a group of
albums recorded by the group “Midnight Syndicate,” that specifically produce non-vocalbased music inspired by neo-gothic trends. The music on these albums used strings,
piano, and even harpsichord in a manner that was in line with our requirements for the
sound design. There were some noticeable synthesizer-produced sounds in many of the
pieces that did not fully integrate with my desire for period appropriateness, but
ultimately these deficiencies were overlooked for the qualities that the music did bring to
the design.
80 The sound designer selected underscoring from these albums for every scene in
the play. He recognized that much would ultimately be cut, but wanted to give me
something with which to work. Two weeks before technical rehearsals started we began
to explore the use of this underscoring in rehearsals. I would have the stage manager
play the music the sound designer envisioned for each scene and consider it along with
the actor’s work. I would notate pieces that seemed inappropriate or something else I
heard that might work better for another part of the play, and then we would discuss these
notes in a meeting the next day. The sound designer would give us another version of his
cues and then we would try again. On a couple of occasions the designer was able to
come to rehearsal and hear for himself the effectiveness of the pieces he chose for
underscoring. It would have been more efficient for me to have had him come to more of
the rehearsals, but he dedicated as much time to the project as he had available.
Once we were in technical rehearsals and dress runs, we began to have the best
sense of when the music worked and when it was obtrusive. A lot of lowering of levels
occurred throughout the process. When I found myself asking to lower a level to
basically unperceivable, I recognized that the section being discussed likely would be
best without any underscoring.
In addition to the underscoring, a few environmental sounds were called for
during the play – a hansom cab passing by and a clock marking the hour. The designer
easily found these sounds and they were integrated into the production during technical
rehearsals with minimal complications. He also added some street sounds for the first
street scene and some bird sounds for the park.
81 I was generally pleased with the sound design that was created. It enhanced many
of the moments in the play in the ways that I had hoped. I was not particularly fond of
the synthesizer sounds that were sometimes evident, but liked the overall tone of the
pieces. During the run of the show I did identify a few more places where the sounds
were a bit too intrusive and was sad these did not get modified before the performances
began. I believe that in these few moments many of the audience members were very
aware of the music and thus pulled out of the action of what they were watching.
Properties Design
Very few properties are required for this play, and I sought to keep our production
in line with these minimal requirements. The most important properties are the cane used
by the Hydes and the cadaver needed for the dissection scene. Letters, packages, a hand
mirror, and glasses for brandy are called for, but their “design” is more a process of
obtaining something suitable than designing something specific. Where applicable, I
decided I would like to use some kind of metalwork motif on the props to tie them to the
scenic design elements. For the canes I desired for a crook to be made with a metal
skeletal construction. For the cadaver I hoped that it could be constructed out of metal
rods and strips that would create the form of a woman in a skeletal manner. Attempting
realism with the cadaver was considered, but because of the gruesome nature of Carew’s
description, I felt attempting a realistic representation would pull the audience out of the
action as they considered the believability of the object. By constructing the form out of
metal my hope was that the audience would quickly acknowledge that the object was
only intended to represent the form of a woman, and then return to following the action
of the play. If they did contemplate the choice further, they might read into it issues of
82 female objectification and restriction – things that tie to the perception issues being
addressed with the play as a whole and ideas that I felt were fully acceptable for the
audience to ponder.
The designing, procurement, and completion of the properties by the props
designer were more problematic than desired. Many of even the simplest properties were
not acquired for the integration into rehearsals until tech week. Much of this stemmed
from not having any of the properties crew attend any of the rehearsals to see some of the
smaller items that were needed for the show. I made a point of insisting that the props
designer attend a run of the show before technical rehearsals, after which she had a much
stronger sense of what was still needed. I would have appreciated her taking more
initiative to serve the production without my having to ask. With the more important
items (the canes and the cadaver), extra oversight was also required. I realized quickly
that the canes and cadaver that the properties designer and I initially discussed were not
things that she had the resources or know how to build on her own. My hope was that
she would seek out other individuals that could help her build what she designed, but as
these things were metalwork, and the students skilled in metalwork were all busy
working on the scenic unit and door, she was left to fend for herself.
After recognizing the difficulty the designer was having, I resigned myself to a
higher level of participation in the actual procurement/creation of these properties. I
selected a specific style of sword cane off the internet and ordered multiple copies. The
canes did not arrive until two days before technical rehearsals and were problematic in a
number of areas. First, the canes that I ordered were not the canes that arrived. The cane
topper that I selected (See Appendix E. Fig. 1) was very different than the one that
83 arrived (See Appendix E. Fig. 2) and the blade on the sword was sixteen inches instead of
twelve. The handle on the blade was also six inches long instead of just being the cane
topper. The cane modifications needed to create the broken cane, and the cane that
breaks during the play needed to be done last minute by the theatre department’s assistant
technical director. As neither he nor the props designer had been to rehearsals, they were
not aware of exactly what modifications needed to be done. I had to work with him
directly to explain how I needed the blade cut down in length and the other canes to look
and function. Ultimately nothing could be done about the extra length of the handle.
When the “broken” cane was constructed it was longer than desired. It needed to be
concealed as a package and placed inside Jekyll’s coat near the end of the play. Jekyll’s
coat was modified to hold the cane, but it remained unwieldy and hindered the actor’s
acting. It was evident in performance that he was concerned with the cane falling out of
his jacket. The late integration of the canes also required modification of some of the
cane throwing that the actors had practiced throughout the rehearsal period. The canes
used in rehearsal were sturdy and weighted equally throughout their shaft, but the new
ones were very top heavy. At one point, one of the actors had been throwing a cane from
the perch over the vomitorium to another actor upstage on the bridge. With the new
canes this throw could no longer be consistently executed, and the cane was not making it
all the way to its target, or would fall apart as the actor caught it.
The cane that broke onstage also proved problematic. This cane was constructed
by cutting part way through a wooden rod and attaching it to one of the extra cane
handles. The cane was then hit upon the metal work of the scenic unit so it would break.
The canes that were ordered had silver tips that this modified cane lacked. In order to
84 fool the audience into thinking the cane was the same as used previously, a rubber
stopper painted a silver metallic color was placed on the end of the cane. Initially this
included tape to keep it on during the swinging of the cane, but after the first cane was
used, the tape was no longer placed on the cane. During the third performance of the
play, this rubber stopper flew off of the stick and struck an elderly woman in the eye.
She went to her eye doctor the next day and found there to be no damage to her eye, but
needless to say the stopper was not attached to the cane for subsequent performances.
The cadaver, while not as problematic as the cane, did present some challenges.
The metal wire that was of light-enough gauge for the designer to manipulate held its
shape poorly and the form lacked clean lines. Numerous hours were spent on the form
and it was only partially recognizable as a female body. While in technical rehearsals the
designer was at the hobby store looking for materials with which to construct hands for
the cadaver when she came across a stylized metal dress form. To her relief I had her
purchase this item and she replaced the one she had been making with this. A cloth head
and arms were added to the body and the piece sufficiently achieved my requirements for
metal work and the recognizable form of a woman’s body (See Appendix E. Fig. 3). The
cadaver was not exactly what I had hoped for, but it functioned as was needed.
The design elements for the production predominantly achieved a high level of
artistic excellence and practical usefulness. The strong collaboration between myself, the
scenic and lighting designers, and the technical director throughout the design and build
process resulted in set pieces and lighting effects that became integral and powerful tools
for the effective presentation of the play to an audience. The costume and makeup
85 designs successfully achieved my goals for fulfilling the audience’s expectations of the
Victorian world. The sound design was fully integrated into much of the action of the
play, and with only a couple exceptions worked to the desired effect. The red door and
the properties proved somewhat problematic, but were ultimately serviceable for the
majority of the performances. As is expected, a variety of design ideas had to be
abandoned and/or modified along the way, but the final product was one that spoke to the
power of theatrical collaboration and the achievements that are possible when designs are
integrated into the rehearsal process and reformulated as needed.
Staging the Play
The actors’ work is typically the most visible aspect of the presentation of a play;
the majority of time spent as a director is leading, guiding, and collaborating with the
actors in crafting their performance. In the following chapter, I address my work with the
actors throughout the production process. This narrative predominantly follows a
chronological consideration, but a separate section of the chapter is dedicated to
describing the exact exercises and acting techniques that were utilized for the
achievement of my directing aims.
Casting Needs
Before any work with the actors could begin, the show needed to be cast. Hatcher
wrote the play to be performed by six cast members: one actor to play Jekyll, one to play
Elizabeth, and an additional four actors to represent the play’s other characters. At
Baylor, where the financial restraints that limit cast sizes in a professional theatre do not
apply, the possibility of distributing the roles to additional actors was considered. The
theatricality of actors transforming into different characters throughout the performance
was something that I did not want to lose, but the addition of more actors could alleviate
the difficult burden of requiring student actors to create so many distinct
characterizations. Adding more actors also gave more students the opportunity to act in
the production – an important consideration in an educational setting. As Hatcher’s
87 original casting stipulations call for two females and four males, the addition of two more
female actors appeared to be an effective way of evening out the gender breakdown of
the cast. There were a variety of smaller roles that these two additional actors could be
given. The desire to add actors to the cast also emerged from the knowledge that they
would likely be useful for the execution of the plays many scenic changes.
As the function of these two actors was considered, a decision also needed to be
made as to whether they would represent Hyde at some point in the play. The meaning
that I hoped would be communicated to the audience through the use of multiple Hydes
was that there are a multitude of possibilities for what the Hyde character might
represent, and every person is complicit in “evil.” With this meaning in mind, the
decision to have these additional actors play Hyde was quickly made.
Having settled on the number of actors that would be cast, and the roles that they
would play, crafting a casting strategy became the next order of business. Before holding
auditions, I made a list of all of the qualities the performers would need to possess in
order to achieve my desired production outcomes. Because of the multiple roles played
by many of the actors and the distinct characterization that would be required to
communicate these character differences to an audience, the actors needed to be aware of
and able to manipulate their bodies and voices distinctively. The actors also needed to
possess immediacy in creating the illusion that the lines that they are saying and actions
that they are taking are those of truthful and believable human characters, regardless of
their physical and/or vocal machinations. Adding to these stipulations, I desired creative
artists who would make strong choices and relentlessly stay engaged in rehearsal. It
would also be crucial that they understand the rhythms of effective dramatic, comic, and
88 suspenseful storytelling. The musicality of this production was very important. The
actors needed to represent a wide range of physical and vocal possibilities which could be
arranged for maximum effect. The actors’ ability to work together in a tight ensemble
was another requirement that could not be ignored. They needed to be in tune with
everything that surrounded them and able to truly listen and respond to their fellow actors
and the audience in rehearsal and performance. While I fully recognized that this list of
desires was extensive and would likely not be fulfilled completely with every actor I
would cast, I moved forward in the process, hopeful of finding actors who possessed
most of these qualities. If the actors could do the majority of the things listed above, I
felt I could be confident that my goals for the effective presentation of the script would be
Casting Process
The initial auditions for the play were held jointly with the director of the show
preceding Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Baylor theatre mainstage season. The students
were instructed to prepare a two-minute monologue through which we could initially
assess their acting prowess and suitability for the plays’ roles. The two plays varied
greatly in style, and there was some concern on our part that having the actors audition
for both shows with the same monologue might negatively impact the directors’ ability to
gauge the actors’ skills for each play. This concern quickly dissipated as the actors
presented their monologues – it was easily apparent which actors possessed the type of
acting skills needed for either play. As the students performed their monologues it was
possible to get a sense of their physicality, vocal qualities, immediacy, mastery of
rhythm, and audience awareness. Of the approximately one hundred actors that
89 auditioned at that time, forty-five actors were called back for both of the shows. The
director of The Ruby Sunrise initially wanted to hold the callbacks together so that he
might have the greatest sense of all the actors’ abilities, but this joint callback was
abandoned as we considered the logistics of the night. With the callback dedicated
specifically to my show I felt I would be able to assess the actors without conducting the
ensemble exercises and movement assessments I had planned for the second callback.
For callbacks, seven sides were distributed to the actors. Four were short
monologues, and three were short scenes. The actors were divided into groups of six or
seven and auditioned in these groups in twenty-five minute slots. This gave adequate
time to see every actor read all the monologues and scenes that were appropriate. As the
actors performed the monologues they were periodically asked to stop and modify their
approach so that their ability to take direction, truthfulness, and suitability for specific
roles could be gauged. The important task of assessing the actors’ physicality and
ensemble skills occurred with this reading of the scenes. Before the actors read the
scenes they were told to make explicit physical choices in their characterization and
interactions. Two of the scenes called for the presence of multiple Hydes interacting with
other characters in abstract ways. It was crucial to get to observe the actors’ physical and
vocal choices made as these additional Hydes, and ultimately their work in these scenes
made it possible to assess their suitability for the production. By the end of the callbacks,
an initial list of about fifteen actors had been made. Narrowing down this list of fifteen to
the final group of eight took further consideration.
The process of selecting the final eight actors to cast in the show required looking
at the fifteen actors and mixing and matching their looks and sounds for desired
90 flexibility and musicality. Several permutations of this list evolved. However, as the
other director was casting from the same pool of actors for his play, a negotiation
between us was required. Only three actors ended up being contested, and I chose to let
the other director have two of his choices and kept the third.
The actor who was retained was then cast as Elizabeth. This role required an
interesting mix of sensuality and virtue that this actress could achieve. The rest of the
casting followed this first choice. For Jekyll, the actor who had the greatest grasp on
precision of performance was chosen; “precision” was one of the most important of the
qualities I was looking for in my cast members. A particular strength of this individual
was the ability to truthfully grasp a sense of the cloaking of self that I associated with the
role. I initially thought the casting of the ensemble could become a process of building
off these initial two choices. The Hyde with whom Elizabeth spends most of her time
would need to be able to connect with and look good with the actor playing Elizabeth.
When considering the casting based on this requirement, one actor came to mind, but I
then realized that the actor lacked the ability to play some of the other roles that would be
demanded of him. Struggling with this predicament, I abandoned this method of casting.
Instead, I re-read the play, imagining various actors playing all the roles that might be
demanded of them. This process required imagination and knowledge on my part of the
acting skills and vocal/physical capacity of each actor. Four of the ensemble choices
were made in this manner, but I opted to have two of the actors come to my office to read
portions of the script with me. These informal second callbacks finally solidified my
thought process, and the ensemble and the exact roles that the actors would play were
91 Pre-Rehearsal Instructions
After being cast in the play, the actors had two months before they were to start
rehearsals. They were encouraged to listen to dialect tapes in the interim period and
informed that they would be expected to have their lines memorized before the blocking
of the play began. The decision to push the memorization date to so early in the rehearsal
process was prompted for two reasons. First, the physical choices that were envisioned
for the actors would require them to be unencumbered with a script as the blocking work
was occurring. And second, there would be two breaks in the rehearsal schedule of the
show. The first break would occur one week after rehearsals started and last for a week,
and the second would occur after one more week of rehearsal and last for a month. Only
five total weeks of actual rehearsal were scheduled, and the backtracking that would
likely occur after each of the breaks was a serious concern. In order to get as far along in
the rehearsal process as possible in the two early weeks of rehearsal, the actors needed to
have their lines memorized.
Overall Rehearsal Narrative
When rehearsals finally started, the first two days were spent introducing the
actors to the design plans, thematic concepts, acting techniques, and ensemble skills that
would be the foundation upon which all further work would be built. The acting
techniques and exercises that were explored in these early rehearsals are addressed later
in this chapter along with descriptions of the ensemble work that began every rehearsal
throughout the process.
A large portion of early rehearsals was spent working on the play’s transitions.
With thirty scenes and a variety of scenic elements that needed to be moved into very
92 specific positions, the actors were more than just performers. Because of the specific
nature of these changes, the placement of each scenic piece and the approximate
movement patterns were something that I predetermined. Much of rehearsal was spent
defining which actors would be moving each scenic piece and helping the actors
memorize these movement patterns. The scenic pieces were not immediately available in
the early days of rehearsal, nor was the actual performance space – the first week of
rehearsals was scheduled during the run of The Ruby Sunrise. These challenges were
overcome by having the shop place casters on a rehearsal door that could be moved about
and using a cardboard cutout of the scenic unit’s footprint that could likewise be moved
around the space.
The rough blocking of the actors in the scenes followed an organic process of
exploring possibilities with actors and slowly finding staging and movement that worked.
Between the prescribed scenic unit movements and the organic process of discovering the
blocking for the actual scenes, Act One was rough blocked before the end of the first
week. For the second week of rehearsal, the base of the actual scenic unit replaced the
cardboard version and the complexity and specificity of the transitions became apparent.
Time was spent reassessing the blocking for Act One along with rough blocking Act
Two. Before leaving for the four-week break, the movement patterns of the actors and
the scenic unit were all fairly well established for both acts of the play.
Upon returning from the four-week hiatus, the first two rehearsals were dedicated
to remembering what had been created and adjusting to a more fully-completed scenic
unit. The actors had made a point of keeping their lines fresh over the break, and after
these two rehearsals we were able to move forward.
93 The fine tuning of the blocking and the exact movement patterns and timing of the
scenic changes maintained our full focus for the next two weeks of rehearsal. Rehearsals
primarily consisted of running large portions of the show (six to seven scenes in a row),
altering and fine tuning these sections, and then running them again within the same
rehearsal. Every two or three days we did an entire run of the show in order to keep the
actors up on their lines and give them a sense of the overall arc of the play.
In the last week before technical rehearsals the focus turned predominantly to the
acting work of the performers. The ensemble work and blocking choices had proven
very fruitful, but the work of the individual actors required some attention. The actors
needed to make sure they were making physical choices for their various characters that
communicated unique individuals to the audience. The actors’ line-reading choices all
needed to be motivated by immediacy of character action. The proper flow of the play
and an emphasis on the thematic ideas of the play also needed emphasis.
Technical Rehearsals
After four-and-a-half weeks of time spent in rehearsal it was time to integrate the
lighting and sound elements during technical rehearsals. For the actors, the technical
rehearsals required surprisingly few adjustments – on the whole these rehearsals were a
very smooth process. There were some changes dictated by the lighting elements.
Actors needed to adjust some of their blocking to find their lights and/or change the
duration of their lines to accommodate specific lighting effects and sound cues, but for
the most part adjustments were made to the technical side of the work. A lack of
visibility in some scenes did require the actor throwing the cane around the space to take
extra care. One of the longer throws had to be abandoned because of the darkness and
94 the difference in weight between the rehearsal cane and the one that was used in
performance. As was described in a previous chapter, the specially designed door
required additional focus during technical rehearsals and performance. As the actors had
functioned as the key individuals manipulating the scenic elements throughout the
rehearsal process, it made the act of integrating lights and sound with these scenic
transitions a predominantly smooth one.
During the last three days before the show opened, the actors performed full dress
rehearsals to invited audience members. This was a crucial time for them to solidify their
performances and make a few minor adjustments to the emotional build, rhythms, and
comedy of some of the scenes. Some of the emotional peaks of the play were discovered
by the actors at that time, but I also noticed that some of the moments that had previously
been working well were starting to fall into rhythms and line readings which showed a
lack of immediacy. It was important at that juncture to encourage the actors not to lose
focus or get too comfortable with the play.
The comic discoveries at this point in the process were particularly important.
The actors were doing well finding the emotional tension of the scenes, but they needed
to find the moments of comedy that could give the audience brief moments to relax
before the suspense amped back up. For instance, immediately following the moment
when the Hydes’ recite their letter to Jekyll about framing him for the murder of Danvers,
the actors were missing a joke that Hatcher had included about the stereotypical
understanding of the poor quality of doctors’ handwriting. Jekyll asks the inspector,
“That note to Utterson, is it in Carew’s handwriting?” and the inspector responds with,
“It’s hard to say, he is a physician, after all” (Hatcher, Dr 44). Jekyll is frantically
95 attempting to prove his innocence at this moment, and this joke gives the audience a
moment to laugh before Jekyll proves that innocence. The actors had been told that this
was intended to be funny, but until they had an audience they had consistently undercut
the power of the joke by rushing on with the subsequent dialogue. With an audience
laughing at that moment, they discovered the proper pause that was required before
moving forward, and the actor delivering the line also found he could modify his delivery
to further increase the joke’s comic payout.
During the run of the play the actors continued to refine their performances.
Often these were good developments, as in the case of the comic discoveries. Sometimes
they were not, as there were a few instances where actors overcommitted and the volume
or emotion of some lines failed to seem genuine. Both of these developments were to be
expected, and after watching them occur in performances, I gave actors small notes here
and there if I felt the quality of their performance could be enhanced.
Work with the Actors
While an overall narrative of the work with the actors has been included above,
this section will discuss specific methods used to encourage the actors to achieve
excellence in their performance. To list every exercise and note given to the actors in the
rehearsal process would be tiresome, but a few specific methods will be described.
As I considered the methods which could help the actors achieve the type of
ensemble work and vocal/physical characterization I envisioned for the play, exercises
found in Viewpoints, Michael Chekhov, and Meisner Technique were all deemed
particularly useful. Fully exploring even one of these methods would require years of
study, but using some of the exercises and ideas proved beneficial. Many of the exercises
96 were incorporated into a “warm-up” period at the beginning of each rehearsal allowing
the actors to connect to one another; these also prepared actors physically and mentally.
The vocabulary of the techniques was also used in rehearsal to give the actors direction or
The creation of ensemble is at the heart of what I like to do as a director.
Stressing ensemble was particularly useful for the effective staging of this play. The
movement of the actors and scenic pieces needed to be coordinated with utmost precision
if the story was to be told effectively. If the actors did not move and stop together, if the
scenic transitions took too long or were lacking fluidity, the clarity and proper flow of the
whole narrative would be disrupted. As such, major focus was placed on the actors’
ability to move as a cohesive group and achieve the exact placement, movement patterns,
and tempo of the scenic unit throughout the play. The exercises used to strengthen and
hone the precision of the actors’ manipulation of the scenic pieces were of two varieties.
The first focused on the connections the actors had with one another, specifically
encouraging the actors to develop their capacity for listening to one another and utilizing
kinesthetic response. The second exercise is best described as “drilling” – we basically
worked through the transitions over and over until we got them right. The drilling
exercise was straightforward and should not require further elaboration, but the
development of kinesthetic response can be described.
Kinesthetic response is a major element of contemporary theatre practitioner
Anne Bogart’s Viewpoint’s training. Bogart defines kinesthetic response as: “Your
spontaneous physical reaction to movement outside yourself” (Bogart 42). The actors’
ability to physically respond to the work of one another in the space was very important
97 to my conceptualization of how the Hydes would function together on stage and how the
unity of the moving scenic pieces would be achieved. Many rehearsals involved specific
Viewpoint and what I’ll label “Viewpoint-like” exercises that connected the actors to one
another and developed their capacity for kinesthetic response. This work required actors
to move around a space and explore the spontaneous occurrences and composition that
can occur when they are fully aware of and responding to one another. An important
Viewpoint-like excise that is rooted in a Michael Chekhov acting method became our key
warm-up activity. Chekhov developed a stick throwing game in which actors stand in a
circle and throw sticks to anyone else in the circle. After the stick is thrown, the actor
who threw it moves to where that stick was caught. The actor who had been there
previously should have vacated the space, having thrown the stick to someone else and
moved to that spot. At the beginning of the rehearsal process the actors were able to have
moderate success executing this exercise with two sticks and the eight actors, but by the
end of the rehearsal process the actors could successfully juggle five sticks and be in
continuous movement.
Another area of focus that commanded attention in the rehearsal process was the
physical and vocal characterizations employed by the actors. When individual actors
perform multiple characters in the same play they must create differentiations between
their characters. As such, these actors’ predominant training in psychologically-based
acting techniques would be inadequate. Psychological methods would still be important
for the actors to creating believability of action, and terms and methods associated with
action-oriented acting were employed in rehearsal, but it was also imperative for the
actors to appear and sound different depending on the characters they played.
98 While not dictating one specific way for the actors to achieve their distinctions of
characterization, I did spend early rehearsals giving the actors tools that I felt could be
useful. We spent time exploring Michael Chekhov’s psycho-physical energy centers
method of characterization. The idea behind this method of acting is that energy can be
placed near or in various parts of the body to physically communicate something about
the character to the audience as well as influence the actor’s internal feelings. For
instance, placing energy just to the front of the eyebrows may instantly transform a
neutral character into one who is shifty, on the lookout, and maybe even a little paranoid.
The audience will see these attributes and if the method fully works as intended, the actor
will also feel the paranoia internally. In the same way, a character with energy radiating
from his chest may feel and communicate a bravado that was nonexistent with the shifty
character. The chest-centered actor might also hold the energy of his chest hostage and a
sense of tension and unease might be communicated to the audience and felt within the
Periodically during the rehearsal process the actors and I would discuss their
characterization work using vocabulary and concepts pulled directly from the acting
methods described above. This method was particularly useful for the actor required to
present the most characters in the play. He played Enfield, Carew, Sanderson, Hyde, and
the Police Inspector. I encouraged him throughout the process to find a clear
differentiation in physicality between the characters and was pleased with his choices.
With the demands of this type of characterization placed upon him, an actor walks a fine
line between being a believable character and falling into caricature. There were times in
rehearsal where this line was crossed by this actor and we attempted to discover the right
99 balance of using these methods without losing the “action” biased techniques that would
keep the actor’s work feeling immediate.
I was particularly pleased with the differentiation of characters that the actor
playing Hyde Three and Lanyon achieved through the use of these physical biased acting
techniques. I heard more than one audience member talking about him after the show
acknowledging that they hadn’t realized it was the same actor until near the end or after
the curtain call. Considering his prominent facial hair which didn’t change between
characters, this achievement is particularly impressive. We specifically found that the
tensing of muscles in his chest and arms achieved a strong characterization as Hyde, and
the placement of energy in the head and chest worked well for distinguishing him as
Lanyon. While I commend his work along these lines, it should be mentioned that he
was not successful in achieving immediacy with all of his lines as Hyde Three for every
performance of the play. His failure to do so will be considered in more detail in Chapter
Five of this document.
Dialect Work
Tied to the manipulation of line delivery and word usage, the actors’ dialect work
requires its own description. My expertise does not qualify me as a dialect coach and
therefore I required the help of an outside dialect coach. This individual could not attend
every rehearsal and give the actors dialect notes, but an effective strategy for dialect
coaching was achieved. The actors were given access to dialect recordings that they
could listen to and practice on their own, and then each individually met with the dialect
coach to go over lines so that he could point out the potential problem words and phrases.
He was able to attended three rehearsals evenly dispersed through the last four weeks of
100 the rehearsal process to take line notes. During those rehearsals, I gave him as much time
as he needed to give his notes to the actors. He presented these notes in front of everyone
at once and the actors were able to learn from their own and each other’s mistakes. Once
in performance, the actors were not always perfect with their dialect delivery, but they
were predominantly successful. In fact, a woman from Ireland sat in front of me at one
performance and afterward made a point of telling me that the actor playing Dr. Lanyon
had been “spot-on” with this Scottish accent.
I find working with actors the most rewarding aspect of directing a play. The
collaboration that takes place between the actors and director typically results in
something of higher quality than could have been achieved individually. With this
production, my role often required dictating predetermined movements to the actors
because of the need to achieve scenic transitions, and while I felt this necessary I am glad
it was not the only method of directing that occurred with this production. Strong
collaboration was achieved as the actors worked off of one another and me throughout
the rehearsal process. The solidification of the blocking of the individual scenes, the
discovery of the final characterizations, and discovery of the proper arc of the play were
all facilitated by me, but could not have been achieved without the strong contributions of
every member of the cast.
Production Assessment
The production process of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde concluded with seven
performances of the play between January 31st and February 5th, 2012, presented at
Baylor University. The performances represented a substantial amount of effort
expended by the faculty, staff, and students of the Baylor Theatre department, and the
following chapter is dedicated to the assessment of those efforts.
Basic Reception
A large percentage of the audience members who see the shows at Baylor are
college students required to attend as a part of a general education course in theatre
appreciation. Feedback garnered from these students can be used to evaluate the basic
entertainment value of a work. Their assessment of any play typically comes from a very
limited knowledge base regarding theatre and cannot be accepted as the only evidence
needed to make a pronouncement as to the quality of the work, but this does not mean
their response should be ignored. After watching the play, these students were polled
electronically in class and asked to evaluate the play as a whole and its individual
elements. The predominant response communicated in this polling process was a
positive one. The department has experienced varying levels of difficulty connecting to
this audience demographic with its plays, but this was not the case with Jekyll and Hyde.
The students found it both entertaining and thought-provoking. They were particularly
102 impressed with the scenic transitions and the theatrical style in which the play was
presented. Some confusion was admitted regarding the conclusion of the play, and some
audience members had a hard time accepting Elizabeth’s unexplained desire to be with
Hyde – two points that will be addressed more fully in the following paragraphs. In
general, these students were forgiving of these perceived deficiencies and were very
impressed with the overall experience.
Design Elements
Assessing the play should also include self-reflection. One area that I felt was
particularly successful was the staging of the play and its integration with the design
elements. My goal to create quick, clear, and fluid transformations of space and
characters held the majority of my focus on this project and ultimately paid off. In his
review of the production, Carl Hoover of the Waco Tribune specifically commends this
work writing: “The Baylor production, smartly directed by Josiah Wallace, whipped
through the tale, an eight-person cast nimbly changing through multiple roles and scene
changes” (Hoover). I am very proud of what was accomplished with the play in these
areas, but credit must be given to the work of the technicians and designers in making
these transitions possible while also increasing the visual beauty of the production.
The actual look of the set, lights, and costumes were both visually striking and
functional. Carl Hoover’s review supports my claims:
[Set Designer’s Name]’s set design was striking, particularly the
dominating set piece with a top level featuring wrought iron fencing and
gas lights on tall poles to suggest, with stage fog, a Victorian London. The
door behind which Hyde retreats from his nighttime prowls glows with
dim red light, another nice touch. . . [Lighter Designer’s Name]’s lighting
balanced the need for dramatic focus and mood-setting in a fluidly moving
103 play. . . [Designer’s Name]’s costumes effectively showed their characters'
occupation and class, while allowing for rapid changes. (Hoover)
Ultimately, a piece of theatre was created with striking design elements that could be
beautifully manipulated to transform the space and characters of the play (See Appendix
E). The crafting of these design elements and the precision of their usage by the actors
contributed to pushing the audiences’ understanding of what can be done within the
visual world of a live theatre presentation; this effect was one of my primary
Not all the design aspects of the production were flawless. I think that some of
the confusion that existed around the character of Elizabeth could have been eliminated
with changes to her costume. If her costume had more effectively communicated social
class instead of beauty, the bleak nature of her existence may have been more apparent to
the audience. In this way, her choice to want something more in life, even if that
something more was Hyde, becomes a bit more palatable. This failure fully rests on my
not spending more time contemplating the implications of the design when it first gave
me pause during the design process.
Having Poole wear men’s clothing was also problematic. Once she was in the
space dressed in men’s clothing alongside two female ensemble actors in dresses, the
choice seemed out of place. I was not trying to overtly emphasis gender identity with this
play, but by having this actress wear a men’s clothing I overtly engaged this very issue.
Initially there were no female ensemble members besides the actor playing Poole, and the
choice to dress her like the men fit into the interchangeable nature of the ensemble’s look.
However, with the added females, this choice no longer made sense. If given a second
chance I would have put this actor in a dress along with the other females. I can envision
104 a scenario where addressing issues of gender may be interesting for a director of this
play, but this was not my intent with this production.
The biggest misstep occurred with the sound design. Hoover’s only critique of
any aspect of the play specifically dwelt on this area of the production. He writes: “The
one production misstep lay in the music played under some scenes. In one case, it made
dialogue hard to hear and several times simply seemed distracting filler as if a stage
thriller needed a movie soundtrack to hold an audience’s attention” (Hoover).
I would disagree that the play did not benefit in some ways by what Hoover terms
a “movie soundtrack.” There were sections in the play where the sound maintained the
audience’s engagement with the stage action. However, I agree with Hoover that there
were a few moments where the sound overwhelmed the action and became a distraction,
and his citing of the time in which it made the dialogue hard to hear is completely valid.
I had noticed the section on opening night, but ultimately did not ask to have it modified.
In retrospect, this choice to not address these sound cues was the incorrect one. I should
have been more proactive. The other moments that Hoover refers to were also things that
I wrestled with, but I again decided to not make further changes due to lack of time and
the burden it would place on the production team. Ultimately, I agree that there was too
much sound and I should have made stronger choices to eliminate more of the sound cues
during the technical rehearsals.
One of the major concerns that I had with this play was that our production might
slip into melodrama. The script has the potential to become overwrought with emotion,
and I was worried that these emotions would lead to audience disengagement.
105 In order
to not overwhelm the audience with such content, I felt that finding and featuring the
comedy and the drama of the piece would be key. The comedy would give the audience
a break from the overwrought nature of the characters’ journeys just briefly enough to
relieve some tension before pulling them back into the story with the newest plot
complication and/or character discovery. Ultimately, the cast achieved the proper
balance; Hoover titled his review “Baylor Theatre’s ‘Jekyll’ a taut thriller,” and goes on
to write, “Baylor Theatre's production of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ reminded us there's
more to theater than a crude duality of drama and comedy” (Hoover).
The acting was predominantly strong. The ensemble and external
characterization work that was emphasized early in the rehearsal process manifested itself
in the final production. Hoover’s review again supports this assessment, stating,
“Wallace's cast . . . was uniformly strong, playing their several characters in broad,
identifiable strokes that enabled the fast pace” (Hoover). The actors were also
commended in the Baylor Lariat review of the production written by Rob Bradfield:
“What I will say about this cast is that I was duly impressed by their ability to believably
take on a variety of roles. The cast performed very well as an ensemble, and were
obviously enjoying themselves on stage. I have nothing but praise to share with this cast”
The actor playing Jekyll deserves extra commendation. He was given physical
and vocal notes in the rehearsal process, but more important than these notes was his
ability to integrate the physicality and vocal qualities that were requested while creating a
convincing representation of the play’s most complex character. Of this actor’s
performance, Hoover writes: “[Actor’s Name]’s Jekyll, in contrast, was more
106 complicated, with flashes of self-righteousness and social stiffness hinting his pure
“good” side is as improbable as Hyde's pure “evil” — one of Hatcher's main points”
(Hoover). His achievement of these qualities helped to abate the play’s potentially
melodramatic flair, and ultimately gave the audience emotional resonance with
melodramatic “falsity.”
While the acting was certainly deserving of the commendations received, it was
far from perfect. Depending on the performance night, the actors achieved differing
levels of immediacy in their truthfulness of line delivery and characterization.
Throughout the rehearsal process I encouraged the actors to find character actions that
prompt attempting to achieve specific goals for every moment of the play. However, I
did not spend very much time helping the actors identify what these actions might be.
More time could have been dedicated to this part in order to get the best performance
possible from an actor. For the most part the actors did an effective job of defining and
playing actions as their characters, but there remained moments in the play where their
immediacy would suffer. Perhaps this could have been avoided if more time had been
spent focusing on these more realistic acting techniques.
There were two particular scenes in the play that proved problematic in
performance in regards to consistent immediacy. These were the two scenes between
Elizabeth and Hyde Three. In the first scene the two meet for the first time, and in the
second scene they see each other for the last time. The first scene was challenging
because it was difficult justifying Elizabeth’s desire to meet Hyde. The second scene
often failed to work because the audience needed to believe that the two characters had a
strong connection to one another that is tragically torn apart, and this connection is not
107 something that is earned with the playwright’s construction of the characters. Some of
the inability to make these scenes truly believable rested in the actors’ insufficiencies –
the actor playing Hyde Three had a tendency to let the intensity of his characterization
translate into yelling. However, mostly the insufficiencies rested in the script and/or my
failure to help the actors achieve more believable characterization.
One other area of the acting that I want to touch on briefly is the work of the
ensemble. The ensemble was particularly successful at achieving a unity of movement
with the non-realistic element and the scenic transitions of the play, but I would have
liked to have continued to refine the ensemble’s involvement with the action of the play
throughout the production. In addition to this general feeling of wanting to do more, the
distribution of the play’s roles could have been reassessed. The lion’s share of the acting
responsibility was placed on the male actors, and I would have liked to have spread more
of these roles to the added female actors. This would have created a stronger sense of all
the actors being an equal part of the ensemble. It also would have required a bolder hand
on my part as well as actors who were all capable of convincingly playing any role I
threw at them.
Another aspect of the ensemble work that I would have liked to have refined
would have been the placement and involvement of individual cast members during
moments of the play where they were “watching” the action. Their exact placement in
the performance space, and the moments that their presence was felt by the audience,
were not completely crafted and explored for possibilities as extensively as I would have
liked. What was created wasn’t necessarily “bad,” but I think it could have been better.
108 Importance of the Dramaturg
From the beginning of this process, the clear delivery of the play’s intricate plot
elements to the audience was a major concern. The use of design elements and acting
choices to achieve clarity in these areas has already been mentioned, but special focus
must be given to the role of the dramaturge for helping achieve unity with this
production. Throughout the process, the dramaturge acted as a sounding board and an
outside observer of the production. The dramaturge periodically attended rehearsals to
closely watch for continuity and consider the impact the production might have on
audience members. She was then able to talk to me about the elements of the play that
she noticed were not resonating or give me general impressions of the impact the play
might have on audience members. Her notes were particularly helpful in making sure
that key pieces of information were not lost in the actors’ line deliveries or because of the
staging. The consistency of the world of the play and the clarity of the story for the
audience was in large part due to the contribution of this individual.
The Play’s Intertextuality
We must return to consideration of the play’s intertextuality in the final
assessment of the production. While a major focus of the analysis section of this
document, the intertextual possibilities of the script did not maintain a major hold on the
practical process of presenting the play to an audience. In fact, much of the directing
process for this production was about crafting all of the performance elements to achieve
a specific goal – audience engagement. However, the overarching intertextual goal of
clouding the audiences’ understanding of the Jekyll and Hyde myth was not lost. The
division of the Hyde role to two more actors than originally called for helped cloud the
109 audience’s ability to pronounce Hyde as a singular being, and encouraged the audience to
further reflect on their own complicity in evil. The final section of the play was also
modified from the playwright’s original intent in an attempt to combat the potential for
simplistic interpretations of the play’s conclusion. The play ends with the line: “I dreamt
I was a man named Henry Jekyll. Everyone loved me and thought I was the greatest man
they had ever met. But I was so unhappy, so lonely. Thank God I woke up in time to
realize I wasn’t him” (Hatcher, Dr 58). The line has the potential to be interpreted as an
indication that the whole relationship between Jekyll and Hyde, and the Jekyll character
itself, was merely a dream. Once the audience receives this simplistic explanation of all
that came before in this play, it cheapens the play’s ambiguity. Hatcher has undercut
much of the good work he has done writing this play with his ending, and I felt it
important to attempt to do all that I could to overcome this misstep. The important part
of the closing line is not that it is a literal “dream,” but rather that the typical ways in
which good and evil are delineated are not necessarily accurate. Jekyll may have
appeared as “the greatest man they had ever met,” but that assessment proved false. In
order to emphasis this aspect of Jekyll I had the actors repeat and give extra emphasis to
the “unhappy,” “so lonely,” and “realize I wasn’t him,” phrases.
The production represents a resounding accomplishment for the designers,
technicians, actors, and director. It entertained a wide audience base. Its narrative and
scenic transitions were staged in a unique and visually interesting manner. The clarity of
the scene transitions and acting was clean and distinct. The design elements achieved our
intended goal of representing Victorian England and the myth of Jekyll and Hyde in a
110 manner that built upon audience expectations, while still reaching them in unexpected
ways. We successfully presented the play in a fashion that supported its surprising
actions and turns of events. The production was also not without deficiencies, as was
seen with some of the technical difficulties, the believability of some of the acting, and
the sound design critiques, but it certainly succeeded in its goals more often than it failed.
Ultimately the production was a testament to taking risks and the power of theatrical
In conclusion, I leave the reader with the commendation of the play made by
Baylor Spanish professor, Paul Larson. While I have never met or spoken to him of my
desires for the production, he gets at the heart of what was attempted with his thoughts on
seeing the show. He identifies the intertextual concept of the “rupture” of “rational
thought” in reference to the production while touching on many of the other triumphs
described in this chapter:
Symbolized by a red door, a continuous rupture with logic and rational
thought was the centerpiece of the work, and characters came and went in
the guise of a doctor, or a professor, or a policeman, and then morphing
into the violent, menacing, and irrational Hyde, and then changing back
again into reasonable English Victorians with their lilting accents and
proper manners. The ensemble seemed strangely constrained at times,
torn between their need to repress their energies as Victorians and their
need to let it all go in the guise of Henry Hyde. I admire both their guts
and their courage, and it was obvious that they trusted their director.
Inittial Design Im
Fig. A 1. Mercedes Image Twoo
2 Mercedes Image Twoo
Fig. A 2.
113 Fig. A 3. Wroughtt Iron One
Fig. A 4. Wroughtt Iron Two
114 Fig. A 5.
5 Wrought Iron Three
Fig. A 6. Wroughtt Iron Four
Sceenic Design IImages
Fig. B 1. Diagram
of M
Mabee Theattre
Fig. B 2. Grounnd Plan
116 Fig. B 3. Drawing off Scenic Uniit
4 Detail off Quatrefoil
Fig. B 4.
117 Fig
g. B 5. Scennic Unit
Fig. B 6. Technical
Drrawing of Dooor
118 Fig. B 7. Door iin Frame
Fig. B 8. Door Ouut of Frame
119 Fig.
F B 9. Guurney
F B 10. B
120 Fig.
F B 11. C
g. B 12. Labooratory
Fig. C 1.
1 Light Thrrough Slats
g. C 2. Doorr Light
122 Fig. C 3.
3 Narrow D
Down Light
Fig. C 4. F
Fig. D 1. Jekyll’ss Costume
Fig. D 2.
2 Elizabeth’s Costume
124 Fig. D 3. Cast C
Fig. D 4. Actor’s F
Facial Hair
125 Fig. D 5. Poolee’s Hair
Fig. D 6. Female Enssemble’s Haair
Fig. D 7. Elizabeeth’s Hair
Fig. E 1. Ordereed Cane
g. E 2. Actuaal Cane
127 Fig.
F E 3. Caddaver
us Productioon Images
Fig F 1. Hyde’ss Room
g. F 2. Letterr Scene
129 Fig. F 3. End of P
Park Scene
Threattens Elizabeeth
Fig. F 4. Hyde
130 Fig. F 5. Hyde Hurtts Prostitute
F F 6. Hy
yde Offers E
Elizabeth a P
131 Fig. F 7. Actor Climbingg on Scenic Unit
Fig. F 8. Hyde Threaatens Uttersoon
List of Hatcher’s Plays
I made the following list of plays while researching Hatcher’s work. It is not
exhaustive list, but includes all his published plays and any non-published play I found
mention of in print media.
Tuesday’s with Morrie (2001)
Tango Delta (2001)
Mercy of a Storm (2002)
The Servant of Two Masters (2002)
Korczak’s Children (2003)
Never Gonna Dance (2003)
The Monkey King (2004)
Murder by Poe (2004)
Lucky Duck (2004)
A Picasso (2005)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2008)
Murders (2008)
The Government Inspector (2008)
Ella (2008)
Armadale (2008)
The Government Inspector (2009)
The Spy (2009)
Cousin Bette (2010)
Ten Chimneys (2011)
Louder Faster (2011)
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of
the Suicide Club (2011)
Neddy (1987)
Comfort and Joy (1988)
Vandals (1991)
The Rules of Threes (1989)
Rattan (1989)
Bon Voyage (1993)
Scotland Road (1993)
Three Viewings (1994)
Smash (1995)
Pierre (1997)
Miss Nelson is Missing (1997)
One Foot on the Floor (1997)
Mother Russia (1998)
Compleat Female Stage Beauty (1999)
Sockdology (1999)
Turn of the Screw (1999)
What Corbin Knew (1999)
Good ‘N’ Plenty (2000)
To Fool the Eye (2000)
Hanging Lord Haw-Haw (2000)
Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd
Wright (2000)
“A Few Hydes Too Many -- Hatcher's 'Jekyll and Hyde' was a Little Difficult to Follow.”
The Sun. Baltimore, 15 Nov. 2009. Print.
Adams, Charles N. “The Falls.” Theatre Journal 59.2. 2007. 305-307. Print.
Allen, Graham. Intertextuality. Routledge, 2000. Print.
Ambrosini, Richard, and Richard Dury. Robert Louis Stevenson: Writer of Boundaries.
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006. Print.
Ball, David. Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays. 1st ed.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. Print.
Balme, Christopher B. Sexual Spectacles: Theatricality and the Performance of Sex in
Early Encounters in the Pacific. TDR, (1988) 44.4 (2000) 67-85. Print.
Barthes, Roland. Critical Essays. Northwestern University Press, 1972. Print.
Berson, Misha. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Seattle Times Online. Seattle Times
Newspaper. 17 Apr. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.
Bradfield, Rob. “'Jekyll and Hyde' features strong performances.” 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 1
Feb. 2012. <>
Bradley, Jeff. “Louisville's Scene - Thriving Theater - Humana-fest Rich Source of New
Plays.” The Denver Post. 5 Apr. 1992. 1D. Print.
Burnham, Emily. “Hyde and Seek Four Actors Portray Infamous Alter Ego.” Bangor
Daily News. 15 Oct. 2010. 6. Print.
Campbell, Jackie. “Bon Voyage” Sails a Tough Sea. Rocky Mountain News, 1993.
Colorado. 11C. Print.
Chaney, Candace. “‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’: Dark, Haunting and Different.” 16 July 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.
Choate, E. Teresa. “Murder by Poe.” Theatre Journal 56.3 (2004): 507-508. Print.
134 Christians, Lindsay. “Painted Black: Strollers Explores Good and Evil with ‘Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde.’” The Capital Times. Madison, 29 Oct. 2010. Print.
Clayton, Alec. Stage: “Harlequin’s ‘Dr. Jekyll’ a Stroke of Genius.” The News Tacoma News, Inc. 3 Sept. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.
D'Souza, Karen. “A Tormented Jekyll Struggles Against Inner Demons - S. J. Rep
Adapts Stevenson Classic.” San Jose Mercury News. 20 May 2008. 9B. Print.
Demaline, Jackie. “Yale Repertory's Winterfest Polishes Plays in Progress 'My House
Play' is Best of Four.” The Times Union. Albany. 30 Jan. 1988. B7. Print.
Dillard-Rosen, Sandra. “Denver-bound Writer Plucks O'Neill Plum.” The Denver Post.
26 May 1991. 4D. Print.
Eberson, Sharon. “Jekyll, Hyde and Hatcher - with Horror Classic Opening, Playwright
Jeffrey Hatcher Scores A Rare City/Public Combo.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 22
Oct. 2009. W-15. Print.
---. “Jekyll , Hyde and Hatcher - Designer Dilemma: Competing with the Red Door.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 22 Oct. 2009. W-14. Print.
Feral, Josette, and Ronald P. Bermingham. “Theatricality: The Specificity of Theatrical
Language.” SubStance (2002): Vol. 32, 94-108. Print.
Fischbach, Bob. “Review - A Devilish Remake of ‘Jekyll, Hyde’ - The Clever
Reimagining Gives Audiences Something New and Stunning.” Omaha WorldHerald. 3 Oct. 2009. 01E. Print.
Gandrow, Kristen. “Dramaturgy: Quirky and Productive.” Theatre Topics 13.1. Mar.
2003: 79-80. Print.
Gilmore, Molly. “A Chase Down the Narrow Alley of a Man's Soul.” The Olympian.
Olympia, 27 Aug. 2010. 4. Print.
Graham, Chuck. A Twisted Tale. Tuscon Citizen. 17 Jan. 2008. Web. 28 Feb 2012.
Hatcher, Jeffrey. The Art and Craft of Playwritting. Cincinnati: Story Press. 1996. Print
---. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 2008. E1. Print.
---. “Downstage Center with: Jeffrey Hatcher .” Downstage Center. 15
Oct. 2004. Web Audio. 28 Feb. 2012.
Hawk, Gavin. “Smash: An Adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Novel An Unsocial
Socialist.” Theatre Journal 60.3 (2008): 491–493. Print.
135 Hoover, Carl. “Baylor Theatre's 'Jekyll' a taut thriller.” Robinson
Media. 6 Feb. 2012. Web. 6 Feb. 2012.<
Hurwitt, Robert. “This Two-faced Doc Has Anger-management Issues.” San Francisco
Chronicle. 20 May 2008. Print.
Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Adaptation. Taylor & Francis, 2006. Print.
Interview w/Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, Pt. 1. Bette & Balzac Hatcher. 2010. Film.
Kerr, Euan. “Jeffrey Hatcher Finds New Depths in Jekyll and Hyde.” Minnesota Public
Radio, 23 Jan. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.
---. “Playwrights' Center to Host Six Awarded Fellowships.” Star Tribune: Newspaper of
the Twin Cities. Minneapolis, 19 June 1992. 16E. Print.
Larson, Paul. “On ‘Jekyll and Hyde.’” Facebook. 2 Feb. 2012. Web. 2 Feb. 2012.
Rawson, Christopher. “The Many Stages of Jeffrey Hatcher - Prolific Writer's ‘Work
Song’ Pushes City Theatre's Limits.” Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. 21 Nov. 2004. G3.
Robert Louis Stevenson Website. n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <>
Rosenfield, Wendy. “Variations on ‘Jekyll’ - Production's Compelling Approach to a
Classic Bogs Down in Plot Points.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. 4 Oct. 2010. D04.
Royce, Graydon. “Complex Personalities - Jeffrey Hatcher’s Adaptation Unleashes the
Dark Side of Usually Sunny Dr. Jekyll in Park Square Theatre’s Production.” Star
Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities. Minneapolis, 23 Jan. 2009. 1E. Print.
Royce, Graydon. “Too Much of a Bad Thing? Four Hydes are Too Many, but Jeffrey
Hatcher's Update of 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' is Still Highly Entertaining and
Thought-provoking.” Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities. Minneapolis,
27 Jan. 2009. 2E. Print.
Saposnik, Irving S. “The Anatomy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Studies in English
Literature 1500-1900 11.4. 1971. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. <
Steele, Mike. “Hatcher, Beckett One-act Plays Highlight Actors Theatre Festival.” Star
Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities. Minneapolis, 2 Feb. 1989. 05E. Print.
136 Stein, Jerry. “`Road’ Goes Beyond ‘Titanic.’” The Cincinnati Post. 12 Feb. 1993. 3C.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-English Classics. Star
Publications, 1886. Print.
---. “Tabloid News Story Inspired Playwright.” The Cincinnati Post. 10 Feb. 1993. Print.
Swartz, Mim. “Anchors Away for an Evening at ‘Bon Voyage.’” Rocky Mountain News.
Colorado, 9 May 1993. 08C. Print.
Theatre Communications Group. Top Ten Most Produced Plays. 2011-12. Web. 28 Feb.
2012. <>
Vaughan, Peter. “Nonprofit Theaters Get Good Reviews Financially.” Star Tribune:
Newspaper of the Twin Cities. Minneapolis, 10 Apr. 1987. Print.
Viagas, Robert. “Theater in the Rough Yields Diamonds.” New Haven Register.
Connecticut, 5 July 1992. D1. Print.
Zinman, Toby. “Jeffrey Hatcher Can't Dance. But Who Cares? He's Adding a Jerome
Kern Musical to His Resume Anyway.” 19 Sept. 2011. Theater Communications
Group. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.
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